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

Simon vs the Home Sapiens Agenda by Becky AlbertalliTitle: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 7th, 2015
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary – Young Adult

Goodreads link

My rating in stars: 5 stars
My rating in words: New all-time favorite!

 

What it’s about:

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.

My thoughts:

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

I read this book in less than 12 hours. It would have been even less if this pesky little thing called ‘work’ did not have to happen in that time period, but oh well. So to say I loved it is an understatement. I FREAKING ADORED THIS BOOK! It was cute and fun and witty and absolutely adorable! Practically the whole time I was reading it I had a big goofy smile on my face. A few days later and that smile is still there. I don’t want to read anything else. I just want to re-read this book over and over and then I want Becky Albertalli to write more about Simon because I could just read about him going on his day-to-day business forever! So let’s take a minute to recap exactly why I liked it so much.

First of all, there’s Simon, who is just a great main character. He’s in the high school drama club, thinks iPods are the window to your soul, has perfect grammar and loves Oreos. He’s definitely flawed, but that just made him all the more real and likeable. His voice was so fun and recognizable. Plus he’s a Harry Potter nerd so let’s be honest – as soon as I knew that little fact I was already in love with him.

“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.”

The romance is just soo cute and adorable. I loved reading the e-mails between Simon and Blue and watching them get a little more flirty every time. Now, I was spoiled on the identity of Blue before even starting this book (my own fault, I should know by now not to browse Pinterest for book quotes and fan art before reading the book. I can’t help it, guys!). I thought this might lessen the reading experience for me, but it actually did not. I liked picking up on the little clues here and there and I loved watching everything unfold. Though I would not recommend spoiling this for yourself, as I do think it’s a fun reveal and guessing Blue’s identity together with Simon would be part of the fun.

“I’m not going to pretend I know how this ends, and I don’t have a freaking clue if it’s possible to fall in love over email. But I would really like to meet you, Blue. I want to try this. And I can’t imagine a scenario where I don’t want to kiss your face off as soon as I see you.”

I also really liked the light-heartedness of the plot. Yes, it’s about a gay romance and it deals with the difficulties of coming out and bullies, but it’s not dark or heavy either. The issues are there and they are being handled in a well written and thought-provoking way, but it was not the only defining aspect of this book. There’s the friendships, family dynamics and just general coming-of-age aspects that are dealt with as well in this book and I personally liked how everything was handled.

I LOVED how the friendships and high-school dynamics were portrayed in this book. I know I haven’t been in high-school for a while now, but it just felt so real. I also very much appreciated the dynamics between Simon and his friends. They have their issues and they fight, but they ultimately do care about eachother and find their way back. I especially really loved and related with the character of Leah. Her insecurity about being the friend that’s left out or replaced by a shiny new friend just felt so relatable and true to the high-school experience. Sure, as an adult you are better able to place all those feelings and deal with them, but for a teenager her thoughts felt pretty real and relatable to me. Reading this actually made me feel all nostalgic and emotional about high school so yeah…

This book also has some of the best family dynamics. I loved this family and they are on my list of fictional families I wouldn’t mind being adopted by. First of all, they are present. They are actually there and playing a part in Simon’s life. Which is not a thing you see all that often in YA. Simon’s parents may not be perfect, but they try and they care. The same goes for his sisters. They are not there to be background characters who are completely interchangeable. They each have their distinct personality and relationship with Simon. Also, I now want to have a big family to watch and discuss reality tv with! (Even though I never watch reality tv. I’m telling you, this book will do crazy things with your feelings)

“It’s like—you have this baby, and eventually, he starts doing stuff. And I used to be able to see every tiny change, and it was so fascinating.” She smiles sadly. “And now I’m missing stuff. The little things. And it’s hard to let go of that.”

Another thing this book did great was the diversity! There’s the obvious diversity in sexuality, but it also has characters with different religions and from different races. I just loved the points it raised and the issues it adressed.

“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.”

Suffice it to say I LOVED this book. If you are in the mood for a LGBTQ YA book that is light and fluffy yet witty and thought-provoking, with an honest and relatable portrayal of high-school dynamics, friendship, family and an adorably cute romance, this is the book for you.

Favorite quotes:

“People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

“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. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

“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.”

“I mean, I feel secure in my masculinity, too. Being secure in you masculinity isn’t the same as being straight.”

“Did you just tell us you’re gay?” asks Nick
“Yes.”
“Okay,” he says. Abby swats him. “What?”
“That’s all you’re going to say? Okay?”
“He said not to make a big deal out of it,” Nick says. “What am I supposed to say?”
“Say something supportive. I don’t know. Or awkwardly hold his hand like I did. Anything”
Nick and I look at each other.
“I’m not holding your hand,” I tell him, smiling a little.
“All right”–he nods–“but know that I would.”

“And you know what? You don’t get to say it’s not a big thing. This is a big fucking thing, okay? This was supposed to be—this is mine. I’m supposed to decide when and where and who knows and how I want to say it.”

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