Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBTQ+
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.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda isn’t my usual cup of tea. I don’t tend to gravitate towards YA contemporaries, especially not those that are described as “cute” and “adorable”. If I read contemporary, it’s usually for the dark themes, twisted characters or exciting plot. But although this book doesn’t really contain any of these things (though it does deal with some heavier issues) I thought it was fantastic. It’s one of those novels that does everything right, and is entertaining to boot. Reading it put me in a good mood; it’s such an uplifting, funny and beautifully told story that I can almost guarantee will give you all the feels.
There are so many wonderful reviews from my friends out there that will perfectly describe to you how wonderful this book is, so instead I thought I would just give you six reasons why you should pick it up.
1. Diversity. Not only is our protagonist Simon gay, but we also have two side characters that are African American and two side characters who are Jewish. The novel explores homophobia, as well as religion and inter-racial relationships, and it does it brilliantly. Part of me was waiting for the moment when the author would take a misstep and say something disrespectful, but I am happy to say that this never happened.
2. Fabulous adult characters. A YA contemporary with active and supportive adults, you say? Does such a thing exist? Thank goodness it does. Simon’s parents are actually important to the story and involved with him. They care about Simon and try to support him as best they can. Yet, the familial relationships always stayed realistic: Simon’s parents aren’t perfect, they sometimes do and say the wrong thing, but they always try their best to make their children happy. Additionally, there is also an amazing adult teacher character in Simon’s life who steps in and stands up for him. Well done, Becky Albertalli!
3. Amazing friends. This was definitely one of my favourite aspects of this novel. The cliques in this book are mixed. It’s not all the geeks vs. all the jocks vs. the cheerleaders etc. Instead, what we get is a realistic portrayal of high school friend groups and non-stereotypical characters. His friends support Simon and accept him for who he is, yet they are flawed and they fight with each other. There is so much love between them, but also rivalry and jealousy and the whole thing was so incredibly honest. The conflicts arose organically and I never felt like they were put in just for the sake of adding drama.
4. Lack of angst. All of the characters are so real and raw without ever being overly angsty. There is some angst because of the situation Simon finds himself in, but it never takes the upper hand and isn’t stretched out unnecessarily. I never felt frustrated or annoyed, but instead appreciated how Simon dealt with all of his problems.
5. Simon, our main character. He’s just the right amount of quirky and very funny and witty as well. I also found him to be so relatable and clever. Plus, he loves Harry Potter.
“What’s a dementor?”
I mean, I can’t even. “Nora, you are no longer my sister.”
“So it’s some Harry Potter thing,” she says.
6. The romance. You guys know I’m not very big on romance. But this one was just so adorable! I was actually swooning just from Simon and Blue’s emails and if a book can do that to me, I’m impressed.
On top of all this, the story is also well-written and includes some beautiful quotes that I will remember for a long time to come.
People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.
I do wish that the book would have been a little longer and some of the side characters a little more developed, but regardless, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a wonderful, heart-warming novel that I recommend to everyone.