Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre(s): Contemporary, RomanceLGBTQIA
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date:  April 7, 2015
Date Read:  June 22, 2015
Buy This Book: Amazon | Book Depository
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
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.
This was so much fluffier and lighter than I expected. The story is pretty much a window into the daily life of a boy who is gay, lives in the South and likes Oreos. He has a nice group of friends, a goofy supportive family, and a smart anonymous email friend. Almost everything from the dialogue to the way situations were handled was so realistic and ordinary, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened in my own life somehow. Well, not the "blackmailing you with screenshots of your gay anonymous emails" part but that's what made things exciting.

Apart from that, Simon even thinks in the most chill, conversational tone ever. The writing is so similar to the way me and several other teens speak these days, especially with all the "I mean" and the "maybe" and the "I can't even" phrases. It makes it all the more easy to blend in to Simon's funny, genuine life.
“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.
But as much as I liked the calm tone, I also didn't feel too attached to any of the characters because of it. I often say I don't like drama, but I actually DO love it. I love angst and tension and passion as long as it makes sense how it came to be. But here, everyone's emotions blended together and I couldn't feel anything special for any one character. Simon was cool, Blue was cool, Abby was cool, Leah was cool, etc. I don't know how to individually describe them despite spending 200 or so pages with them. I liked them but they just feel like peculiar passerby that I observe on the bus ride home and then never think about ever again.
“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.”
However, the character detachment still didn't get in the way of my enjoyment when I read this book, especially near the end where the romance starts to light up. I wish I could have seen it develop some more and I also want to know what happens to some of the other characters' love lives? Will they live on with a one-sided crush forever or find someone new? What's with Nora's sudden change of heart to become social and badass? And what the heck is Martin going to be up to now? I guess, I'm still curious even though the ending was quite satisfyingly sweet.

Thanks to the We The Book Dragons Goodreads group for getting me to finally read this adorable book and discuss it in fun ways.




24 comments:

  1. I've heard nothing but great things about this book. I'm glad it's fluffy and cute and portrays LGBTQIA in such a happy light. Shame you didn't connect with the characters too much... Lovely review <3

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

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    1. Oh yesss, the gay relationship in here is so lovable and Simon's remarks on coming out and how "straight shouldn't be the default mode" as well as how "masculinity isn't connected to sexuality" are so IMPORTANT! :D

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  2. I loved all the quotes in this book...and of course Simon really, really stole the book away. His voice was just perfect and fit so well with the rest of the voices in the book, it just felt like he belonged there. I loved his family and I loved Blue! It makes me really sad to see that you didn't find any real connection with the characters :( but I'm so glad that that didn't hinder your enjoyment of the book. Becky Albertalli brought up such an important and relevant topic in a completely different light and I can't wait to see what more she has in store for us :) Great review!

    Rhea @ Rhea's Neon Journal

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    1. Simon's voice was so relatable and casual :D I'm already looking forward to any other books by Albertalli because it looks like she can write both POC and LGBT characters in such a realistic light (I can still remember that part where Simon notices that Abby and all the other black kids live in a separate far away neighborhood and have to take the bus to school and I could relate to that. It's just another one of the daily problems that POC face :/ I'm glad Becky included that)

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  3. Hmm, although many of the aspect sound great, it doesn't seem like there was ever that WOW moment? Love the quotes you picked, I can tell I would enjoy the voice and personality of the characters, and the writing seems pretty meaningful as well.

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    1. Yup, it definitely would have benefited from more WOW moments of special-ness that I could only associate with this book but it was still a wonderful quick summer read :)

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  4. Harry Potter!! I swear that's the first thing that caught my eye in your review- I'm weird like that. *shrugs*
    I get what you mean by being unable to feel very attached to the characters because me, I love drama :D The quotes you picked were cool though!

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    1. I don't blame you! I giggled like a dork when this line came up :"D

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  5. I NEED THIS. He can't even?! Omg, he speaks my language. And I've heard it's absolutely adorable and that's the kind of reads I need in my life. *nods* The fandom references sound so epic and awesome too!!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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    1. Simon is so relatable like he even has a never ending playlist full of sad music to play when he's feeling out of the mood and omg SAME.

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  6. This is one I really want to get to soon. I have heard such good things. I love that the dialogue is actually realistic. It is the worst when you read teenage dialogue and it is all wrong - Great review!

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    1. Yesss, unfortunately I've read enough books that try to imitate teen voice but end up making the characters sound so petty and whiny *second hand embarrassment for those characters*. Thanks for visiting :")

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  7. I think you liked this one more than me, I gave it three stars :D It's really good how diverse young adult is being now. The dialogue was amazing in the book. <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. I debated giving it 3 stars once the magic of the ending wore off but I can't bring myself to do so. Haha so this rating is extra subjective.

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  8. Hmmm, it seems like an interesting book. I like it when authors are able to create characters so relatable that the reader might think "Oh I speak just like that" or "I think just the same". What's the point of books, if there's no drama, lol? Great review!

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    1. Luckily there was some tension with the blackmail but I was going in with high expectations for something life-changing but it was only entertaining.

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  9. I DEFINITELY agree with your review, Ju! The writing style was just so easy and practical to read, even if it did make the characters indistinguishable. The romance TOTALLY made up for it though, as well as the wacky family. ;') I loved how realistic the book was too! Awesome review. <3

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    1. Aw thanks, Aimee! The writing was so casual, like a text or email in itself, you just slip into the character's lives so easily :D AND THE ROMANCE. I had an idea but I couldn't predict a lot of things, especially the fact that the person was not white omg Simon was right to wonder why "white" was the default. We're just so used to it that we don't expect representation.

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  10. I agree, this was such an awesome read but I wish more happened especially with the other characters' situations. I really enjoyed reading the email convos of Blue & Simon because it was so cute! I wish there was more. I'm glad you enjoyed Simon VS HS though!

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    1. YES! I feel like I barely got to know Nick or Leah so that kind of meh-ed it for me :/ Still adored the emails though, especially whenever Blue would flirt omg

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  11. Ive heard so much about this book! Glad you enjoyed it, im trying to pick it up soon :)

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  12. I really liked your review of this, and I love your rating clouds! They're so adorably sweet and perfect for how adorable I find this book. I really enjoyed the way the tone was casual, too, although I hadn't really processed or considered that fact before you bought it up in your review. But I do also feel like it can make the book less relatable- I'm not a big fan of conteporary, and though I really did enjoy this, characters talking like real people isn't always something I find makes the story the best for me. It does sound convincing, it's really easy and quick to read, I quite like elements of it, but it doesn't make for the best read, at the same time.

    Nice to meet you, Ju! Lovely review. xx

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    1. Aw, that's the first time someone commented about my rating clouds haha thank you! I know what you mean about getting too casual, at first I was like "wow this book doesn't even feel like a book". I guess that's because you and I have a special place in my heart for poetic (but not purple prose!) writing?

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