Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

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4 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.

It’s wonderful to see so many diverse, eye-opening novels on important subjects published these past few years (and I see some great ones coming up in 2017 as well!), LGBTQ, feminism, and racism being only a few. I think exploring darker and more moving tones in YA literature is great, and while that is important, I loved seeing a happy and light gay romance represented in Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. This novel doesn’t shy away from topics such as self-acceptance and embracing your sexuality, but the way it is presented works so well with this heart-felt, humorous tale.

The story is started off immediately with Martin picking up a conversation with Simon, subtly threatening to expose his screenshots of Simon’s emails to Blue, a mystery boy that Simon had been wholeheartedly talking to since they randomly found each other on Tumblr — if Simon does not set Martin up with his crush, Abby. Simon is conflicted and confused about this situation, but this whole fiasco is not the main plot of the novel. The main point lies around Blue and his identity, as well as Simon’s struggles with his friends and coming out. The writing was honestly effortless, it’s incredibly genuine, natural, and realistic and this helped a lot when formulating realistic struggles and relationships between Simon’s best friends and family. Unfortunately, discovering Blue’s true identity was just a conformation for me, as I had guessed the character long before he was truly revealed, but I loved the added mystery element regardless. What impressed me the most is the consistency of the warm and uplifting composure, even with representations of homophobia and racial tension. Albertalli perfectly explores realistic scenarios and character angst while still weaving a loving, adorable story.

Simon Spier is honestly a gift. He’s intelligent, funny, and witty as ever, just the kind of protagonist this book needed. His voice was incredibly natural and relatable as he mulled over his relationships and thoughts on his family, friends, and overall composure of his school and its crazy characters. Simon’s friends, Abby, Leah, and Nick were also realistically portrayed in the book, and I love how they were so supportive of Simon. In fact, the relationships are one of my favorite things about this novel, the characters’ vulnerability massively boosts the naturalness in Simon’s interactions with his friends and family.

The romance is extremely cute, and while that’s practically the only thing every reviewer is saying, it’s true! The final moments leading to Blue’s reveal will have you nervous and excited for Simon, and the moments after that will keep you smiling until the end. SO CUTE.

Overall, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a great contemporary novel that has managed to mesh ideas of self-acceptance and coming out with an adorable, fuzzy romance. I highly recommend to readers looking for a sweet, honest, and diverse story.

-Haven

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