Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda| Becky Albertalli
Print Length: 325 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
“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.”
“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book written with so much heart and genuineness that it is nearly impossible not to appreciate the story unfolding throughout the pages. Albertalli creates wonderfully three-dimensional characters that you can’t help but love…and hate (or strongly dislike, if anything). The strongest aspect of this book has to be its characters.
Simon is a sweet and endearing protagonist who is confident in his sexual orientation but hasn’t quite reached a comfortable point in his life to “come out” to his family or friends, though he makes an exception to his online friend/crush, the mysterious “Blue.”
“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.”
His online conversations with Blue aren’t just exchanges of humor and romantic notions; they are also meaningful explorations into societal expectations and how these expectations or beliefs impede on the personal growth and flourishing of individuals part of the LGBTQ community as well as for persons who reject the status quo.
As a result of these conversations and the issues presented by Simon’s blackmailer, Martin, and his antagonistic actions, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda acts as a contemplative and insightful piece of YA literature that draws its strength from the characters and the interactions they have with one another, as well as the numerous themes weaved seamlessly throughout the whole ordeal.
The blackmail conflict stirred a raging fire within me and I couldn’t help but despise Martin’s bad behavior as he invades Simon’s privacy and carelessly wields Simon’s personal information as a weapon against him. It was also frustrating reading about characters who didn’t understand Simon’s predicament or those who bullied him for his sexual identity.
“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”
To combat the anger spurred on by Martin’s and other narrow-minded characters’ actions, Albertalli lightens the mood by placing a great emphasis on friendships and family dynamics. Simon’s parents and sisters are very present and supportive of Simon’s situation and identity. They also are very well-rounded characters with distinct personalities and voices. And not only that, his friends are also good people who love Simon and while they experienced quite a bit of drama along the way, their friendship with Simon remained intact and stronger by the end.
There wasn’t much I disliked in this book, to be honest. Blue’s identity was a bit obvious to me midway through, but the mystery held strong up until the end as so many possible candidates’ personalities came to light and made me think once or twice about who Blue truly was. The romance between these two characters is nothing short of adorable.
“The way I feel about him is like a heartbeat — soft and persistent, underlying everything.”
In short, I loved this book. It is a beautifully diverse, well-written story with fully developed characters, humor, and a few serious messages concerning identity, acceptance, family, and so much more.