Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertali
Publication date: 07 April 2015
Genre: Young adult contemporary
Page count: 313 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
I feel like a broken record — I’m always talking about why I don’t read contemporary young adult books. Unless there’s a hook that’s particularly interesting, I’m just not interested. I picked up Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda simply because it is such a beloved story in the YA community and has changed the lives of so many teens. Unsure if it would appeal to my cranky, old lady heart, I’m so happy to say that I really loved this book.
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 listened to the audiobook of Simon and I think that was the best route for me. Clocking in at just under 7 hours, it’s easily the shortest book I’ve listened to. But it still manages to pack a whole lot of heart into that short period of time. I can easily see how this book has made such an incredible impact on the bookish community, particularly for queer teens who have been reading it over the years. I think the thing that really made me love it is that it’s just a story — it doesn’t involve him overcoming a horrible coming out experience to his family, or violence against him for his sexual identity, or anything like that. I hope that makes sense.
Simon obviously had the strongest voice, as the book is told from his perspective. Simon has an incredibly strong, funny, and believeable voice. While I don’t agree with the people who scoff at John Green’s characters — I very much knew teenagers who talked like that — I felt like Becky Albertalli really nailed the language and dialogue of teenagers. The characters came to life, and I found myself believing that I could have been part of this friend group. In fact, there was only downside to this book and that was the character of Leah. I found Leah really difficult, mostly because I knew a Leah when I was in high school and she made everyone’s lives a living hell. I found her to be toxic, obnoxious, and difficult to deal with. Why everyone bends to her whims when she makes them all miserably, I don’t even know. I struggled with the fact that no one called her out for her shitty behaviour.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a sweet book about realistic teens with realistic problems — I had an absolute blast listening to this book. While I really did love Simon, I’m not 100% sure I’ll continue on with the series of companion novels, particularly Leah on the Offbeat. I just don’t think they have that ‘hook’ that I mentioned earlier.
Want to buy Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):
Have you read Simon? Have you read the follow up books? What did you think? Let me know!