Review: Check, Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Rating: 3 stars
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: First Second
Genre: young adult contemporary graphic novel
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: book 1 of the Check, Please! series

Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!

Y’all... I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. This does not affect the content of my review.
So I feel like a jerk dumping this 3 star review in a sea of 5 stars. I absolutely hate when I don't ABSOLUTELY LOVE something other people ABSOLUTELY LOVE.

Check, Please! is complete Mary bait: it's super fluffy yet also sporty. There's hockey! There's pie! There's friendship! Camaraderie! Unrequited crushes! ...requited crushes? KISSING! It's all the things I love... and yet... I don't LOVE this story, and it's mostly because of 2 things:

1. The framing of the story is that Bitty is a vlogger, and he's telling the story to his viewers. Got it. Cool premise. Except... he spends so much time TELLING us the story in a stagnant frame. There is a lot of showing the story, but I was super over Bitty sitting in his room telling us what's happening in his life. I think a really good example of someone vlogging as they tell us a story is Easy A. Emma Stone is shown talking to the camera several times, but most of the time, the viewers are seeing the story as it happens, not listening to Emma tell it. There is a scene in which Bitty is clearly narrating to his viewers while the action is occurring on page, almost like a voice-over, and I vastly preferred that to seeing Bitty sit in his dorm room talking to his webcam.

2. Check, Please!: #Hockey is a bindup that contains all of Bitty's freshman & sophomore years at school, but it's only 240 pages. I felt like I didn't get enough of his story as a whole, and I REALLY didn't feel I got to know the secondary characters well enough. I wanted more of everything! Right now, I feel like I read the bare bones. Not quite an outline, but #Hockey just didn't feel complete for having covered two entire years of college. I would have vastly preferred a 200 page novel for each year than this slightly longer bindup.

I did really enjoy reading this graphic novel though. I thought the art was great, and I do love the characters (which is why I want more of all of them). Shitty is probably my favorite secondary character (yes, his name really is Shitty on the page. It's his hockey nickname, and no, we never see another name other than his last [which is Knight]), and I loved the bromance between Ransom & Holster. And Jack is.... well, he's Jack, and he's dreamy af with that dark hair and blue eyes and supremely square jaw and surly attitude yet his willingness to help his younger teammates...

Check, Please! is absolutely adorable so by all means, read it and love it. But do keep in mind that it's really short, and you're going to want more. Luckily for us, book 2 Check Please!: Sticks and Scones is releasing in 2019, and we'll get all the year 3 & 4 shenanigans (and hopefully lots more kissing)!

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Ngozi Ukazu is the creator of Check, Please!, an online graphic novel whose printing campaign remains the most funded webcomics Kickstarter ever. She graduated from Yale University in 2013 with a degree in Computing and The Arts, and received a masters in Sequential Art in 2015 from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

You can read Check, Please! here on Tumblr.

Author Links:


  1. So this is really weird, but I finished this book last night. I did enjoy the book, but when I head to Goodreads later to review, it won't be 5 stars. You make valid points--while I loved Bitty and the other characters who were much more open minded than I had expected (pleasant surprise)--I wanted just one year of college per book. This was too short and sometimes I felt I was missing things, but that might be because of the length of the book. Plus, more action please! I'm dying to see Bitty do more ice dancing too and really only got a glimpse of that.

    1. I think it would be so cool to see Bitty skating more! And yeah, it's such a fun story, but those chapters are so short it's hard to get a good handle on all the action and the plot. I really wish we had more.