Saturday, February 20

Becky Albertalli - Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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 picked this book up after Vera's constant badgering me to, and am I glad I did!  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was a beautiful coming out story with the best kind of characters and writing. Read on to see what I liked and what I found slightly lacking in this awesome book by Becky Albertalli! 


Simon Spier is being blackmailed by his classmate because Simon is gay- and a not-so-open one at that. If Simon refuses to help Martin, then Martin will publish his emails with Blue, an anonymous boy from school whom Simon is slowly, kinda falling in love with. Simon, who is in fear of embarrassment and the possible ruining of his relationship with Blue if news of their relationship become public knowledge, decides to help Martin. In this wonderful debut by Albertalli, Simon has to deal with Martin,  his over-bearing family, his increasing attraction to Blue, and his friends. 

This was a well written book with a strong, realistic narrative voice. I really felt for Simon’s struggles and the position he was put in because of others. This book is a beautiful blend of many topics, some of which are homophobia, inter-racial relationships and religion, and they are all done superbly. The writing was solid, even though I did find the pacing to be quite rushed towards the latter part of the book. A gay protagonist, Jewish side characters, African American ones- we have them all! This sure is one book you should pick up if you're looking for a quick diverse read. 

"People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it's a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other."

I loved the way Simon's character was portrayed. He was the perfect mix of fun, wit and quirk, and that's always a plus in my opinion! Also, he loves Harry Potter and we all know that anybody who loves Harry Potter is an awesome sauce human bean. While Simon was relatable and I loved his inner voice, I also felt he could have been written with a little more depth, and the same goes for the side characters of which there was a host of, including Simon's amazing friends and some pretty fabulous adult characters. Fabulous adult characters? Yes, this book made me realize that they DO exist. 

From Simon's parents to his drama teacher, they were all awesome and supportive, even though he failed to quite realize that at times. His friends, of which he had quite many, were all always supportive of him and were always there for him. I was quite a bit disappointed in the way he treated them- but maybe that's just me. 
What's really amazing about this book is that while these characters were all portrayed fabulously and non-stereotypically, they never strayed from the realm of realism. They were never too-perfect and made mistakes and learnt from them because yes, we are all human and humans err.

"The closest thing I’ve ever had to a journal is probably you."

I loved the emails we got read that were exchanged between Simon and Blue and they were some of the best bits about this book! I loved the feel of mystery and suspense as Simon was trying to guess the real identity of Blue from the hints he dropped, but unfortunately, the final reveal was, in my opinion, quite underwhelming because I'd already guessed who it could be and was kinda fervently hoping I'd be proved wrong. I don't know why but I felt a bit let down because of it, but nevertheless, Simon was happy, so I guess I'm happy for him. 
The story started to move to quickly after the reveal and I feel like there could have just been something more that seemed to be missing.

I know this is probably just me, but I felt as if Simon fell in love twice throughout the story, and this made me question the authenticity of his feelings towards Blue at the end. I was also a bit worried about Simon's change of heart towards that one character he was crazy about from the start, about whom he didn't bother about after knowing Blue's identity. I mean, Simon was practically smitten with this character, so... *shrugs* I just felt a bit bad for him. There were also some things I think that deserved a bit more attention, like Leah’s story or Nora’s story or what became of Martin, but of course, I guess it's more realistic this way since this is Simon's story. 

R
egardless, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a heartfelt,  heart-warming novel about friendship, family and cute romance that doesn't hesitate to portray the reality of homophobia in high schools, and I'd to recommend it to anyone.

"Sometimes it seems like everyone knows who I am except me."

The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 4/5
The characters: 4/5
The cover: 3/5
Enjoy factor: 5/5
       

2 comments:

  1. This looks like such a fun and cute book! I've heard amazing things from it, and I'm always a fan of not so serious contemporary. Great review Ruzaika!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you :)) I really hope you give this book a go, Emily- I'm pretty sure you'd love it!

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