Title: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Extent: 303 pages
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.
I can’t believe how long I took to read this book! Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is light-hearted, funny and warm, and the moment I started, I knew I was going to fall in love… and fall in love, I did. The story opens when Simon is in the middle of being blackmailed and carries on as he learns how to deal with his blackmailer, his friends, his family, his crush on Blue, and his sexuality.
This book is told in two main formats: you’ve got your normal prose chapters narrated in first person by Simon, and then you’ve got your email chapters, where you get to read the exchanges between Simon and Blue. Both are cute and entertaining, but I must admit, I have a very soft spot for Simon’s storytelling. With the myriad of books told in emails, I think that format just doesn’t really excite me anymore. Oops? 😛
The highlight of Simon vs. is definitely its characters. I am in love with each and every one of them, ‘bad’ guys included. These characters are incredibly real, with real issues, real personalities, real strengths and real flaws. They leap off the pages and speak to me on a personal level. Like How to Repair A Mechanical Heart, Simon and his friends speak like dorky teenagers these days:
“What’s a dementor?”
I mean, I can’t even. “Nora, you are no longer my sister.”
“So it’s some Harry Potter thing,” she says.
Simon, the titular character, is especially endearing. He’s funny, nerdy, sweet, and so willing to see the good side in everybody, even when it doesn’t seem to benefit him. His relationship with his friends, his parents and his siblings is heartwarming; they might go through their own ups and downs, but at the end of the day, they’re supportive of each other. My god, that’s what I love and have yearned to see for ages in YA literature: supportive friends, supportive family members… just support all around. And Simon vs. has got it all. ❤
When the time came for Blue to reveal himself, I wasn’t surprised. He’s shy in a very cute way, somewhat flirtatious, and I like the way his relationship with Simon developed, both via the emails and later when they finally meet for the first time, although I don’t believe that’s the point of the story at all. I don’t even think this book is necessarily about sexuality, or homophobia; rather, I feel like this book is about growing up and learning to accept yourself.
“It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement.”
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda reminds me that not all bad guys are inherently bad—sometimes, they’re dealing with their own issues as well. Does it justify their mistakes? Perhaps not, but it’s worth a thought.
This one’s for those of you who want a fluffy, light-hearted, squee-inducing read. 🙂