Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

SimonI dare anyone to read this book and not fall at least a little bit in love with Simon, the main character of this sweet, funny, touching young adult novel.

Simon is a 17-year-old high school junior, a good student, in the school musical (Oliver!), and with a reliable circle of friends, among them his life-long besties Nick and Leah and his new BFF Abby. What Simon hasn’t shared with anyone is that he’s gay. It’s not that he’s unsure — he’s quite, quite certain about his identity. He’s just not quite ready to stop being private and have to deal with the reactions he’s sure to face.

But life gets complicated. On the Tumblr where students from his school share secrets, he’s found a kindred spirit — a kind, smart boy going by the name of Blue, who is also a junior at the same school. Simon and Blue start an intense email correspondence, each using his “secret” gmail account to maintain anonymity. Over the course of the weeks and then months since they began emailing, they’ve opened up to one another to  a remarkable degree. Simon wants to meet; Blue isn’t sure that it’s a good idea.

And then Simon makes the ultimate online error — he checks his email using the computers in the school library and forgets to log back out. Before long, he’s facing a geeky, awkward student named Martin who lets Simon know that he has screenshots of his emails and will let the entire school know that Simon’s gay unless Simon helps him get Abby to go out with him. It’s blackmail, but carried out with a smile. Martin refuses to see that he’s doing something evil, and apart from this unforgivable act, Martin isn’t a terrible person or a bully, which makes it all the more confusing for Simon.

Simon himself is a sweetheart. He’s funny and smart, tries to do the right thing, and has good intentions, although he still manages to hurt some of his friends along the way. Above all, he’s a boy who’s falling in love with someone from the inside out, learning everything about Blue but still not knowing which of the boys he sees at school everyday is the actual man of his dreams.

Simon’s voice in the novel is engaging and full of humor. Even in his moments of doubt or discouragement, he’s funny as hell.

I take a sip of my beer, and it’s — I mean, it’s just astonishingly disgusting. I don’t think I was expecting it to taste like ice cream, but holy fucking hell. People lie and get fake IDs and sneak into bars, and for this? […] Anyway, it really makes you worry about all the hype surrounding sex.

Simon’s email flirtation with Blue is incredibly adorable:

I’m glad I was cute and grammatical. I think you’re cute and grammatical, too.

The truth eventually comes out, and Simon comes out, and all is finally revealed. I don’t want to say more, because seeing it unfold is a big part of the fun.

Beneath all the humor and cute teen escapades are real feelings, beautifully expressed, about family, identity, safety, trust, and friendship. Simon’s journey in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda involves sharing himself, really and truly, with the people in his life, and pursuing his truth even when it means taking risks.

It’s a lovely and engaging story, full of flirting and happy moments as well as heartache, and I loved every bit of it. Highly recommended — check it out!


The details:

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: April 7, 2015
Length: 303 pages
Genre: Young adult fiction
Source: Purchased


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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