Title: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Year published: 2015
Why I read it: I kept hearing about if from various sources and wanted to give it a shot.
Blurb: 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.
Rating: Would definitely re-read.
– I am glad I kept hearing about this enough to eventually check it out. The synopsis in itself left me a bit luke warm, fearing that the story would feel contrived and clichéd. I am really happy I was wrong.
– My main comment is that all the characters are really well rounded, and all of Simon’s friends have distinct personalities and aren’t just there to serve the plot. While the romance is a very enjoyable part of the book, I appreciated that there was a strong focus on friendship, both same and opposite sex, and that they didn’t all develop into romantic relationships.
– Speaking of the romance, I enjoyed the way it was told predominately through emails. Some parts hit really close to home. I did figure out who Blue was, although that has a lot to do with hints I read prior to starting the book, because it was written so that you wouldn’t immediately guess it.
– I really liked that the antagonist in the book, Martin, who blackmails Simon, was not some stereotypical homophobic jock like in so many other stories. Martin did a lot of really untoward things, and one majorly inappropriate and unacceptable one, but he was not simply a bad guy who was constantly bullying people. I think this might have had the side effect of making a lot of people sympathise with him more than he perhaps deserved, but I appreciate the subversion of the stereotypical bad guy.
– Other things I loved: the female characters. Simon’s parents. The humour. The fact that even though he wanted to, Simon never betrayed Blue’s trust in order to find out his real identity. Every interaction between Simon and Leah. Every interaction between Simon and Bram. Leah wearing a dress for gender-bend dress-up day at school. Discussions about coming out in a heteronormative society. The use of autocorrect in emails and how the language sounded appropriate for their age group. “You sort of talk the way you write”.