Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was written by Becky Albertalli and first published in 2015. It is a work of contemporary fiction that focuses on a gay teenager as he comes out to his friends and family. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it. A film adaptation of the story titled Love, Simon is due to be released next month.

Simon Spier has known that he was gay for some time and is okay with that. Although he’s not sure how to tell the people around him, he has managed to find support from Blue. Simon first met Blue on the school tumblr page and the two have grown close through their email correspondence. Simon knows that Blue goes to his school and is the same age as him but, other than that, has no idea who he is.

Yet their growing relationship may be in danger. When Simon forgets to log out of his email account on a library computer, someone else learns his secret. Martin is considered to be a bit of joke around the school but does have a crush on Simon’s friend, Abby. All Martin wants is for Simon to set the two of them up. While Simon wants to brush him off, he is backed into a corner when Martin hints that he has taken a screenshot of the emails. Simon knows that Blue is very private about his sexuality. If Martin was to tell anyone, it could ruin their friendship forever.

Simon enters the most difficult few months of his life. Everything feels complicated and he doesn’t know what he will do if his secret gets out. He is changing fast and he’s not sure how he feels about the person he is becoming. The only thing he is certain about is his feelings for Blue. If only he could find out who his mysterious messenger really is…

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a really fun novel to read, but I must admit that it’s not the easiest novel for me to review. I’ve read a bit of criticism of this novel from LGBT readers who believe that the story is actually aimed at straight people. One of the main criticisms levelled against the story is that, because Albertalli is a woman, she can’t fully understand what it is like to be a gay male teenager. Personally, I can’t really comment on this. As a straight woman, I’m really not in any position to pass judgement on that. Perhaps this novel will speak to you on a personal level, or perhaps not. All I can say is that I really enjoyed it.

The novel doesn’t have much in the way of plot but does present a very moving character study of a gay teenager as he is forced to come out before he’s ready. While this may seem like a simple concept, its actually incredibly complex in practice. Simon is pulled in all kind of directions by the expectations of his various circles. From his father’s gay jokes to his friends who are keen to set him up with other guys, everyone is quick to show their support of Simon but, in doing so, they unwittingly put a lot of pressure on him. Over the course of the novel, Simon slowly starts to define himself and discovers what he means to those around him.

Martin’s blackmail was also handled in an interesting way. Although Martin does do some unforgivable things over the course of the story, I felt that the situation was largely made bigger than it should have been by Simon’s worrying. It didn’t really seem as though Martin was consciously trying to blackmail him at first, even though Simon certainly took it that way. To me, this made it feel more real. Martin wasn’t really your typical bully. He was just a lonely geek who used Simon as a way to catapult himself into a friendship group.

Between the chapters, the reader is treated to email exchanges between Simon and Blue. These were probably my favourite parts of the novel as they were where Simon could really be himself. Although their relationship does have its ups and downs throughout the story (especially as Blue figures out Simon’s identity), it is incredibly sweet and it’s a joy to see the two of them growing closer. Both boys are intelligent and witty, but speak with very different voices. While Simon is passionate and energetic, Blue is shy and calm. I was quick to get attached to both of them and found that I really wanted their relationship to work out.

However, I don’t think that the novel dropped enough hints as to Blue’s true identity. This is the great mystery of the novel and, as I’ve said before, I think that mysteries work best if the reader has an opportunity to guess the twist. While there is one huge clue as to Blue’s identity in the novel, this really only serves to narrow it down to about three possibilities. The rest of the hints are available only to Simon, and so it was impossible to realise them in hindsight.

However, this gripe aside, the novel is still incredibly sweet and I found it difficult to put down. Part of the reason for this was that I came very invested into Simon’s relationships with his friends and family. This dynamic was something that Albertalli presented really well. While Simon’s viewpoint is understandably self-centred, his friends still felt like real people. They didn’t conform to the typical young adult stereotypes as Simon’s social circle comprising of a variety of different people. The only issue I had was that I wanted to learn more about them. The only thing that we really see of Simon’s friends is how they react to Simon. A lot of their stories – such as Nick’s relationship with Abby – occurs off-page and so we only really see the before and after. It would have been nice if Simon had the opportunity to get to know some more of his peers on a personal level.

I don’t think I have a lot more to say. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda had a couple of issues was an engaging novel. I got really attached to the characters and found myself eager to read on to learn who Blue was and see if he and Simon got their happily after. I’ve never read any of Albertalli’s novels before, but I will certainly keep any eye out for them in the future.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jess@Fairday's Files
    Mar 25, 2018 @ 19:55:45

    I haven’t read this book- but it sounds like a great read. I love that you cared about the characters so much. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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