Book Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Book Review # 15: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Arbetalli
Date Published: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 303
Copy: Hardcover
Rating: Image and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPic

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.

My first LGBT YA book and I did not feel an ounce of regret after reading it.

Simon Spier is your typical sixteen-year old boy. He goes to school. He has more than the occasional cynic tendencies. He likes oreos, and he’s gay. For sixteen years, Simon has not once endured the pressure of coming out. He was straight in the eyes of everybody, until he made the mistake of leaving his email account open for his classmate to see.

And now he was being blackmailed. Simon was never one to bow under such circumstances if not only for the sake of his virtual partner, Blue, whose identity he does not even know. To what lengths will Simon protect Blue and who is Blue anyway?

This was an incredibly quick read. It’s simple, straightforward, and filled with goodhearted humor. So what else is there to look forward to?

1. A lighter approach to the issues that the LGBT community face.

This was honest and original, close to being factual even as it particularizes matters of reality –  the pressure of coming out, the social stigma, the fear of not being accepted, etc. but what’s refreshing about this book is that it enumerates positive standpoints. The author allows the story to progress into the ideal and that makes it all the more grin-worthy.

2. A genuine and lovable set of characters.

I doubt anybody could hate Simon. He is just so real. His responses are so real. His struggles are so real that you would want to pull him out of the book to give him a hug. He is everything a main character should be.

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? I honestly think I’d rather make out with Bieber. The dog. Or Justin.

“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.”

The book is an exemplary textbook of how our society treats gay people and Simon is an obvious representation of their trials and quests for happiness. The book houses a wonderful set of characters you could only wish composed today’s society. A quick note though, if you have trouble keeping tabs on characters’ names, you might want to write them down. There are quite a lot of them.

3. A mystery decent enough to keep you going. 

My failed attempt at eliminating possible prospects is well enough proof that the story does a decent job in the mystery department. I was already 80% done and I still had no idea who Blue was. The author doesn’t necessarily drop a lot of hints except if you’re really good at deciphering cleverly concealed ones. Of course that’s a good thing.

It’s a different story if you ask me whether I guessed it right. *smug face*

4. The romance: sweet, colorful, dreamy. 

There should be more of this! You can probably visualize my enthusiasm pouring out of the bucket now. Maybe this is just me not getting enough of Simon and Blue. Their story just screams fairy-tale, not the mushy kind, but the charming, fun, butterfly-triggering kind.

5. References

References to Harry Potter, oreos, Bieber, etc.- clever and cute.

Leftover thoughts:

  1. No, really just more romance between the two leads.
  2. Resolutions are movie-like, quite sudden but nothing worth cringing about. I just wanted more closure between Simon and another character but maybe we can’t just have it all.

Well, all’s well that ends well. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book worth your time. It’s funny, memorable, and demands huge amounts of fangirling, I kid you not. Read this book. It will keep you in a good mood for the rest of the week.

PS. That’s my composed self talking. If my emotions were not in check… well, go ahead and read my status updates:

On page 108 of 303: I am so tempted to read spoilers right now. aklfjakldfjla.
On page 150 of 303: Damn it. The suspense is killing me (butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of way)
On page 257 of 303: kskzmakamznmmjzbzbb less than 50 pages left and I’m still asking the same question. Really now?
I’m Finished: Totally incoherent right now but that was just *gets brown paperbag*
An hour after: I can’t stop thinking about it. akfjlafkldjflajfaslfa. Simon’s wittiness and angst make him ridiculously hot and I can’t even. And Blue *breathes* Blue blue blue ♥

Favorite Quotes from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.

But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.

It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement.

It’s strange because in reality, I’m not the leading guy. Maybe I’m the best friend. I guess I didn’t think of myself as interesting until I was interesting to Blue.

There’s something about you that makes me want to open up, and that’s slightly terrifying to me.

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