Book Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Posted July 24, 2015 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 10 Comments

Book Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens AgendaSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Genres: young adult, contemporary, glbtq
Pages: 303
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

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 up this novel because of the hundreds (okay, 20 or so) of reviews that kept popping up in various feeds. Some of my most trusted blogging friends gave this one high marks, and not just for the content. Hype can kill a novel for me, but when you see reviews from practically every source screaming to read it, then that hype can become a vehicle for promotion instead of crippling anxiety. I believe my initial reaction during shelving was: “Everyone who gave this book a glowing review: please pat yourself on the backs. I bought this because of you.”

If nothing else, it was a good time to pick it up due to the recent court ruling here in the USA. (Suck on it, homophones!)

So, the next court ruling I am hoping to see is that this book becomes a staple in libraries, schools and basically anywhere with books. This book is just amazing, clever, and just plain FUN.

Border Leaf

Awesome Characters are Awesome. The story was great, but the characters really made the book fantastic. Simon’s strong, colorful personality quickly became one of my favorite voices in literature. He walked that wonderful line between quirky and mundane. Simon could honestly just be that guy who sits across from you in English, the one that is quiet, but can often say something clever off the mark, when the time is right. Blue is very adorable and quite different from Simon, in some aspects, and I like that the reader could tell the difference in the e-mails.

Outside of the two focal characters, the novel totes a wide range of other wonderful personalities, with Martin, the horribly misguided and part douche part awkward kid that sets off the entire ordeal, the girl best friend, which we slowly learn is a black girl without the author shoving it in our faces with the whole “I’M DIVERSE WITH THE NUT-SKINNED GIRL” thing, and the pair of best friends that add quite a bit of dynamics to the story. Leah is angry and pouty, but she is intense and strong, while Nick is more laid back and goes with the flow. There is a lot of feelings and he likes her/she likes him/ he likes him sort of drama playing out, but it isn’t so overboard that it induces a case of the eyerolls.

As far as characters are concerned, I quite enjoyed the depth of even some of the minor rolls. For example, the hot stuff popular bragger can be annoying, but she also has a deep sense of justice and doesn’t allow bullying to happen in front of with without a fight. I loved that the characters fell into the grey areas, instead of black and white trope roles.

WonderWriting. This author is landing on my “to be watched” list. Her comedy aligns with my preference for low-key and artful humor. The voices of her characters were unique, and the emotional parts didn’t go overboard with the sap, but added just enough to yank at the heartstrings. I really adored how well the author constructed the narration.

The ‘S’ Word. One of the biggest issues that I face with male-centered novels is the constant onslaught of sex references and mental leering. It honestly creeps me out. It just gets to be too much for me sometimes. The flirting and the sexuality wasn’t in my face, but was just the right touch of cute and saucy. Attraction to grammar and Oreos? Making cute little snippets about cute butts and kissing? Adorable. Just so adorable.

Wheel of Morality. Yes, the book’s apparent message is pro-gay, but it doesn’t just stop there. The book also tackles other large issues, such as race and gender, and small-scale problems, such as friendship dilemmas, family dynamics and social media rules. I was thrilled to see that an author addressed the small but brutal realities that gay teen face, such as fear of preemptive outing, attraction to close same-sex friends and blatant bullying. This isn’t just a cute, touching fluffy book. The author doesn’t mind diving in and tackling the really gritty, uncomfortable stuff. The only issue I found was a lack of accountability and legal actions for some of the offences. Seriously, one of the characters in the novel should have had a little bit of community service on their plate due to a poor, horrible, nasty decision made out of spite. I want to see more of the LEGAL consequences come into play in GLBT novels.

 

words_overall

This book offers a lot for any reader. The book doesn’t campaign social issues in a flimsy manner, but instead, sets up the perfect story to illustrate how social injustice happen simultaneously. Race is still an issue in school. Gender inequality is a reality for many teenagers. Sexual orientation equality is light years behind. All of these are occurring at the same time, and all of them have the same root: ignorance and control. Becky Albertalli writes and executes a sweet story with some heavy content. Her voice in all of these matters is welcomed and applauded. The field needs more authentic, realistic fiction such as Simon. This book is highly recommended!

Lyn Sig Plant

 

10 responses to “Book Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

  1. Amazing review ! This book is already pretty high on my TBR list, so I know I’ll be reading it very soon, but every review just makes me want to have the book in my hands NOW !
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  2. First of all, amazing use of gifs. What show are these from? I would love to watch them 😀 The only anime I watch these days is One Piece so I am SO out of the loop.

    And I’m glad to know that this one is worth the hype. Like you, I’ve seen so many people sing it praises on Twitter, GR, and Facebook – pretty much everywhere, basically, so I can’t wait to read it soon myself. I love how you mentioned that the writing here aligns with low-key and artful humor because I actually love that kind of humor, too. Plus, I’m so curious with the oreo references O_O
    Faye le Potato recently posted…Review: Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams – Woods + Psycho on the loose = TERRORMy Profile

  3. I’ve seen this book everywhere as well, Lyn, and almost all the reviews are glowing! I know you are like me when it comes to hype, though, so that’s another good point in the book’s favor, that the hype didn’t kill it for you. Sometimes, when ‘everybody’ loves a book, I start reading it with too high expectations, too, and that’s never good. I’ll try to keep those expectations normal, but I will read this!
    Simon sounds like a great character, and I love stories where even the minor characters are fleshed out even if they are on the sidelines. Great review, Lyn!!
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