Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali
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’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews for this book leading up to its release in April, so I was pretty excited when I finally picked it up.
I loved it.
It’s cute and laugh-out-loud funny, and I loved all the characters. Simon, of course – I knew I would love him from his first-of-many Harry Potter references – but also the colourful cast of secondary characters: his reality show loving parents, his politically correct older sister Alice, and quiet but talented younger sister Nora; even his rounded group of friends: Leah, Nick, and Abby. Heck, I sort of liked Martin for a while until he screwed Simon over.
And the mystery surrounding Blue!! I started to suspect about halfway through who Blue would be, but by that point, I was so invested in their pseudo-relationship that I had to keep reading to find out if I was right (I was. AND THEY’RE SO CUTE).
One of the things that I think makes this book so good is the voice: Simon is sweet but stubborn, funny but sometimes introspective. He swears a lot (I think it’s funny when people are offended by YA characters who swear – like, have you ever stood in a high school? F-bombs EVERYWHERE!) but has decent grammar, even if he loves sentence fragments. I love that Blue is a total grammar nerd too, and uses “nauseated” instead of “nauseous”.
I also thought the other characters were fairly realistic. For someone who doesn’t have a lot of screen time, Leah was really well formed in my head with all her jealousies and insecurities, so there were a couple of times when I cringed and went, “Leah is going to be so mad”.
Another thing I thought was great was the way Simon kept checking out the other guys in his school. Yes, he was technically in love with Blue, but that didn’t stop him from noticing the other cuties wandering the halls. That, to me, is so realistic – he’s not completely bent on finding THE ONE, like in your typical YA book, and he’s not immune to other good-looking dudes.
I could keep going, but suffice it to say I loved this book. It’s a character-driven novel, so the plot is relatively simple, but in this case, it worked because I enjoyed getting to know Simon and the world around him.