While I’m reading quite a lot of different books at the same time right now, I was really in the mood for some contemporary and since I just talked about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli in my last post I thought it was time to finally give it a shot. Keep reading if you want to find out what I think of it.
| Published: 2015 by HarperCollins | Paperback Edition | Price: 8,99 € |
| 303 pages | ISBN: 978-0-06-234868-5 |
16-year-old Simon Spier is gay but no one knows about it. No one except Blue, his mysterious email friend who he’s been writing with for weeks. They go to the same school but neither of them knows who the other one really is. When the bond between Simon and Blue gets stronger and he starts feeling attracted to Blue, Simon wants to find out who’s really behind the only guy he can be completely open with. But then, when someone not so friendly accidently comes across their emails and starts blackmailing him, Simon faces the danger of him and Blue being outed before they’re both ready for it.
The title is a really funny word play on the of course non-existent but by certain conservatives much talked about “gay agenda”. It’s kind of like “Simon against the world” so it’s very fitting and definitely unique. I like the cover for its simplicity. The book is pretty short and I almost read it in one sitting, which basically never happens to me, but is definitely doable here.
Writing & Plot
Despite one of the main issues being Simon being blackmailed, the story is quite light-hearted. Yes, some pretty bad things happen that I wouldn’t want to experience but it never gets too serious because Simon decides not to let everything get to him. Some important issues like homophobia and bullying are addressed, but it is not a main focus of the book. I liked how everyone dealt with these things and how the teachers and Simon’s friends were all unanimously supportive (I feel like that’s not a spoiler, since Simon himself says that he expects no other reaction in the beginning). That is so refreshing to see and I really believe it can be so enormously helpful to kids reading this and going through the same things, seeing that the people that truly matter will still love you and accept you for who you are. And that is just the kind of message a book like this should convey.
Becky Albertalli’s writing style makes the book super easy and quick to read. Simon is telling the story in present tense and it really feels like you’re in his head while reading. He doesn’t hold back on what he’s thinking. He tells the reader the majority of his genuine thoughts without changing anything or thinking about how it might sound. In my opinion, that’s the best way to really get a feel for a character. I felt nervous and excited whenever he felt nervous or excited and was so anxious to find out who Blue was!
I thought the pacing was perfect. Of course I had some guesses on Blue’s real identity and I was actually right with my number 1 guess, but you could never be too sure about anything, so it was still suspenseful. What I love the most about the ending is that it doesn’t immediately come after you find out who Blue is. I was really scared of that because it’s happened in a lot of other stories and I just end up feeling unsatisfied and wanting MORE.
Simon is a very relatable character. He’s smart, witty, and funny and I found him to be really likeable. I’m so glad the author didn’t make him into the typical “loser”/”unpopular” kid but gave him a nice, well-rounded group of friends that he always hangs out with. He isn’t the most popular person ever but right in the middle and I found that especially relatable since that is where most people fall on the spectrum. This book also isn’t all about him being gay – I mean, it is to a certain extent, but that is not he’s not reduced to that. It’s just a part of him that he hasn’t chosen to share with other people yet. He is very secure in his sexuality, so this book is not dealing with coming out to yourself first, which nevertheless is a very important step for most people while figuring themselves out, but Simon has already moved past that.
Blue was very, very mysterious. He is more somber than Simon but in almost exactly the same boat as him and just as lovable, especially in the end! I can’t really say anything else about him without possibly spoiling something, so you just have to read it yourselves (and you really should!).
Simon’s friends are very realistic and it adds a lot to the plot that they have their own drama going on which Simon is involved in. I especially like Leah and Abby. Abby is just so cheery and Leah is the exact opposite most of the time and while they have their own differences they’re always there for Simon. In the end I wasn’t just rooting for Simon and Blue, but also for the friends to get along again as well!
Something has to be said about Simon’s family, especially his parents. They’re trying their best to be the “cool hipster parents” and it’s adorably funny. Reading about all their family traditions, especially the yearly chipmunks song-recital, made me laugh. He also gets along with his sisters really well, so it was great to see a completely intact family for a change.
“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.” (page 146)
“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. I guess this is sort of our version of the Homosexual Agenda?” (page 147)
I would recommend this book to virtually anyone since it deals with such an important topic in such a light-hearted and funny way. The characters are relatable and realistic, the story is plausible and arcs very nicely, and I just have nothing to complain about! If you haven’t already, you should definitely read this. Let me say that again: You should definitely read this. I can’t wait for Becky Albertalli’s next book, The Upside of Unrequited!
5 out of 5 Hubbles