Thursday, January 12, 2017

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


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a great LGBTQ+ book about a teenage boy named Simon who has been secretly emailing a boy who goes to his school. Simon is gay, so is Blue, neither of them are out of the closet and they also don't know each others real names. Simon knows him as Blue, and Blue knows Simon as Jacques.One day Simon's classmate Martin tells Simon he knows about the emails and blackmails Simon into being his wing man so he can get with Simon's friend Abby. Simon's scared that Blue would find out and be pissed and he's scared that his sexuality will be exposed before he's not ready. 

I love this book. Becky Albertalli's characters are what really made me love this story. Simon is hilarious, Blue is adorable, and his high school friends are really supportive and cute. I feel like sometimes there's this curse in YA where the main character just isn't as good as side characters but this definitely isn't one of those times. Simon was a great character to follow throughout this story. High school is very often written very superficially especially if the author hasn't been a teenager for a while, but Albertalli's high school setting and the motivations and arcs for each character are realistic and well done.

My favorite scene has to be the gay bar scene. Between Simon meeting the college boys, the college boys taking interest in him because of how cute he is, the way he is handed back to his friends, and even drunk Simon had me smiling. It was a cute and funny little scene. I also enjoy the humor throughout the entire book. Little things like their dog's name is Bieber, Simon's first taste of beer, and even the sarcastic and silly humor between Simon and Blue.

As a straight female I couldn't relate to the LGBTQ+ aspect of the story, but I did enjoy reading the perspective of Simon. I really like how empathetic and kind Simon was and that he has such a sweet heart. I also really loved reading his emails with Blue. They were funny, sweet, and you could definitely tell that they had established a relationship before the story started. Sometimes YA romance feels too "and we lived happily ever after" at the end for me, when in reality we know high school relationships don't have  great track record. Sure, some work out, but as a whole most of them don't and I like that the relationship between Blue and Simon seemed like two guys who were bonded and trying to figure out their sexuality. Most of the book was just them crushing on each other, not declaring their undying unwavering love for each other.

 I also really enjoyed Simon's friend Abby because she was genuinely excited about and for Simon. I love the scene where she applies makeup to him before the school play. I think she was a lot of fun. I have to say I don't really have much of an opinion on Nick. I don't think we really got to know him all that much which made it hard for me to forget that he was technically Simon's best guy friend. I do not know if I like Leah. I don't completely get where she was coming from emotionally when we find out her conflict within the story. I think she was highly overreacting, especially since she was mad at Simon for doing something he mentioned in the beginning of the story she did all the time. It seemed to be unnecessary drama.

I really like that Simon's family played a big part in the story. The scene after Simon gets drunk and his father sits him down and apologizes about the gay jokes that he said before (and even right after) knowing Simon was gay was an important one. His dad genuinely didn't mean anything by the joked except that he was trying to be funny, and the way he talks to Simon asking him to "rein me in" and keep him in check was a good one. Simon's parents were funny and heartwarming especially the part where Simon's mom is describing how Simon was as a baby.

(Some SPOILERS in the next full paragraph about Martin blackmailing Simon) 

I read this book about a year ago I believe. I have this bad habit of reading books really quickly and not absorbing any of the information and having to re-read the book basically like it's a brand new story. When I read it last year, in my review I said I really hated the Martin character. Reading it a second time I still really disliked his character. Howeber, seeing that he had learned, apologized, and was genuinely sorry for what he did helped me not hate him as much this time around. The only reason why I have come to that conclusion though, is because Simon's story turned out alright. He could have ruined Simon's life. What if Simon's parents didn't support him and kicked him out? Or if the bullying became too much and he didn't have the support system he did. The story shows that Simon had his friends, classmates, teachers, a cute e-mail boy, and his family on his side supporting and protecting him. What if he wasn't so lucky? Maybe the story would have taken a darker turn. I understand that Martin is just a teenager and when you're young sometimes you make decisions you regret but it was enough  for me to not like Martin. Also, this isn't any sort of negative review on the book itself. I know this kind of thing isn't uncommon and I think Albertalli handled it well and realistically. 

Overall I recommend this book to everyone, if you're on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, know someone who is, want to read about more diverse characters, or if you just want a cute romance with some witty humor. Like I said in my 2017 Reading Goals I want to read more diverse books, and that includes more LGBTQ+ books. 

Thanks for reading!
Have you read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda? Are there any LGBTQ+ or really any diverse books you recommend to me?