Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
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.

Todd's rating:

I found this one cute and funny, but not entirely what I expected it to be, so while I enjoyed it a lot, it wasn't the all-out 'undying lurve' for which I'd hoped.

The book that I thought I'd be reading went something like this:
Two closeted classmates find one another online, getting to know one another via e-mail, then texts, then calls, finally meeting face-to-face mid-way through the story, then we see their relationship grow while navigating the difficulties of being out and together in a Southern high school.
However, the book, as written, was more like this:
Two closeted classmates find one another online, getting to know one another via e-mail, but never progress to texting or calls, with a bit of butthurt halting e-mail communications for a good bit, while the vast majority of the story concentrates on a class play and tons of straight friend drama surrounding Simon's best male friend and the two girls who like him.
And we don't find out who 'Blue' is until 86% into the story, which I felt left very little time for actual relationship development on-page.

Don't get me wrong, this was a knockout story of high schoolers learning who they are and navigating a minefield of emotions, where every little thing is hormone-driven high drama at its finest.

It was a fun read, but in addition to the (slightly underutilized) blackmailing aspect of the book, it also had a bit of a "whodunnit" feel, with the mystery actually being "Who is 'Blue'?" and the reader is given several different secondary characters who he 'might' be.

My only real issue with the story was that once Blue's identity is revealed, very late in the game, we only get a minimum of Simon and Blue being together as a couple.

I just wanted (quite a bit) more Simon and Blue "us" time, maybe cutting done on some of the dramatics surrounding the play and the romantic lives of the Simon's friends. That would have made the book feel a bit more M/M YA romancey for me.

Other than a few on-page kisses at the end, the story is entirely steam-free and ends with what I see as a "let's date" sort of HFN.

I still pretty much loved it and it rates right at 4 stars in my opinion, so I'd recommend it, with the caveats that I mentioned above regarding the story that you'd actually be reading.

This was my copy of the book and was not provided by the publisher.

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