Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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.
The hype was super-strong for this book – which means I was unfortunately stuck in the “I liked it, but I didn’t love it” camp, so I’m going to try and write this review outside of the world of hype – if that’s even possible.
I was kind of surprised by how quickly the blackmailing plot kicked in, and how much of Simon’s online relationship with Blue had already happened before the book even started. I guess I kind of felt like I had missed a couple of introductory chapters, but it was only a little snafu.
Much of this book is about Simon coming to terms with who he is, both in terms of sexuality and a person in general. Simon is busy trying to deal with the blackmail, which was a bit of a smaller plot point than I had expected based on the summary, but he also has changing relationships and a school play to worry about.
I think one of the things that left me a little wanting was the characters. Simon was a pretty interesting character, although at times he was a little too teenage boy for me (I know, if I don’t want characters who act like regular teenage boys, I might want to avoid teenage male protagonists altogether), but the other characters felt a little lacking. There were either characters I liked but didn’t seen enough of, like Simon’s sister and friends, Abby and Nick, or characters that simply felt underdeveloped, like Simon’s other friend, Leah (I think that was her name). I just wanted a bit more from the characters.
Diversity! There’s the obvious fact that the main character is gay, and obviously has a gay love interest, but there were also more POCs than I expected, in the best way possible. Simon’s family and most of his close friends were still all white, but at least it’s a start.
The Adult Situation
I kind of wanted more from Simon’s parents as well. They had a minor plot point – they spend too much time obsessing over Simon’s life, and that definitely affects him, but otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much going on in their lives that we learn about, which was unfortunate.
As everyone’s said, the online romance between Simon and Blue is quite adorable, and I’m happy to say that it was a pleasant surprise who Blue really was, but I would have liked to see more of their romance in person. There’s only so much adorableness that can happen over email, and of course there’s a bit of drama surrounding it thanks to all the blackmailing and such.
Everything wrapped up nicely by the end. There was adorableness, romance, and growing secondary characters. I was satisfied with the ending, and the only reason I would really want a sequel would be to see more of Simon and Blue’s real life romance.
It sounds like I really enjoyed this book – and I really did – but the main drawback was that I didn’t love it to the levels that most people did, so it almost seemed like I didn’t like it as much as I did. Regardless, I’m quite looking forward to whatever Becky Albertalli writes in the future.