Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Albertalli_Simon

Published: Balzer + Bray, 2015
Genre: YA contemporary, romance lgbt+
Pages: 303
My rating: 5 stars

Description:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.” (Goodreads)

Thoughts:
When I was writing my Simon Book vs Movie post, I was shocked to realize I had never actually reviewed the novel.

This is one of the books I was hesitant to pick up because of all the hype. I didn’t think it would live up to it, and honestly, I didn’t trust a book about a gay boy written by a heterosexual woman. After reading (and rereading), it’s ended up being one of my favorite books of all time.

This is such a cute, fast, feel-good book. It’s a go-to for me if I’m sad or in a reading slump because it never fails to make me smile and I always want to speed through the pages. Even though I know the Big Reveal and there’s not much mystery to it, there’s still so much pleasure in rereading it. I especially love catching small moments between the two characters that hint at the coming romance.

Of all of the lgbt+ books I’ve read, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda makes me feel seen. There’s a lot of commentary not just on Simon’s struggle with his own personal identity but also having a relationship with your identity in general, and that makes me feel understood though I’m not the same identity as Simon. Simon’s thoughts and reflections as he comes to terms with his sexuality are similar to ones I’ve had about my own, and this is the first book I’ve read where I thought, “Ah yes, someone gets it!”

This book also has such great characterization. I really loved how clear and well-written Simon’s personality was. It was so easy to get attached to him as a character, and a lot of the time he felt like a real, well-rounded person. It felt almost like being talked to directly instead of reading a book. When that line between the reader and the narrator(s) is blurred, that’s when I know the narrator is excellently written, and I’m always amazed at how closing Simon Vs. feels like saying goodbye to a friend.

Also, as a small side note, I can relate to falling in love with anyone who is kind to you for more than 30 seconds and/or is potentially queer. I thought this was a hilariously accurate aspect of this book. (I fall in love with anyone who I think might also like girls, even for just a minute.)

There’s not a lot I dislike about this book. After rereading it, though, I still don’t quite understand the reaction from friends. I’m trying to remain spoiler free here, so I’ll just say that while what Simon did might not have been okay, I don’t think his friends had much compassion or empathy for his situation or what he was going through. Truly, he had more to risk than they did, and I think their reactions were a bit unfair. Abby seemed to be the only one who acknowledged Simon’s situation and what led to the series of events that her, Leah, and Nick were upset about.

Speaking of Simon’s friends, I liked Abby and Nick, but I found Leah to be a pretty unlikable character who never quite grew on me. She and Simon were so close that I hoped for some redeeming qualities to be revealed, but I never did grow to like her, unfortunately.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell from this review or how much I gush about this book, I love Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It’s such a fun, soft, heartwarming read that I know I can always rely on for a great reading experience. If I need a smile or something to get me out of a reading slump, I almost always reach for Simon.

In late spring, I did a little read-a-thon of Albertalli’s books, this being the first. Expect future reviews of her other two novels soon!

Some quotes:
“But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways…And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

“Sometimes, it seems like everyone knows who I am except me.”

“…don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default?”

Recommend for fans of: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamine Alire Sáenz, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.

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