book review

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

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Becky Albertalli
HarperCollins: Balzer + Bray, 2015
Paperback, 303 pages

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Synopsis:

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 risk 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 with, will be jeopardized.

As his email correspondence with Blue grows more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. 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.

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Review:

WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN?

To start, I absolutely loved it – and I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to because it was so highly recommended. Which usually raises your expectations and then you expect too much and the reality of the thing usually lets you down. This exact thing happens to me all the time with movies. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved Disney’s Meet the Robinsons but it wasn’t the life-changing, mind-blowing movie that my sister had made it sound like. I’m transgressing here. And now I’m worried that I’m overhypingย Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda for you, my readers, and you will go into it with unrealistic expectations. So… the book was… okay, it’s not the be all and end all of all novels… GO READ IT.

Anyways, to focus on my review, I was completely hooked from the first chapter. Unlike other books that take a few chapters to introduce you to the characters and orient you to the context, this book jumps right in. And while other authors might not be able to pull this off, Albertalli totally does. You quickly get a sense of the characters and straight into the plot. With Martin blackmailing Simon in such a subtle way that Martin doesn’t even seem to realize, I immediately disliked Martin. Because if you’re going to blackmail someone, you should at least be aware of what you’re doing and now pulling the “woe is me” crap.

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I really liked the character of Simon. He was honest, funny, insecure, and a huge Harry Potter fan so that’s a definite plus. But in regards to the blackmailing which I mentioned before, I keep thinking that he should have handled it better. That might be the teacher in me since bullying is a huge no-no. I can totally understand that being in the situation itself it a lot more complicated and he did have a lot to protect – namely, Blue.

Another part of the novel that I really connected to in the novel were all the little pop culture references – Katniss, Yoda, Tohru from Fruits Basket. I’m not going to lie, any author that brings in a little manga reference is absolutely awesome in my opinion. You rock, Becky! (And apparently get upgraded to first name basis with me.)

As for the identity of Blue, I had my guesses – as did Simon – and I turned out to be right which I absolutely loved. (No spoilers here.)

As I finished the novel, there were some questions that I still had though. Like the group dynamics have got to be strange with all these love triangle/squares/connections going on. And also, with Martin blackmailing Simon, not realizing he’s blackmailing Simon, and then completely taking out his anger in the wrong way – I felt like there should have been consequences. Cyber bullying is still bullying.

Irregardless, I absolutely fell in love with Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and everyone should go read it and become a fan of Becky Albertalli. I know I am. I am looking forward to her new book The Upside of Unrequited that’s being released next year.

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