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

Title: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Contemporary, GLBT, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Books (7th April 2015)

Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for.

But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated.

Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal . . .

Rating: **** (4 stars)

SIMON vs. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli is a standalone young adult novel that tells the story of sixteen-year-old Simon Spier. When the book starts Simon is exchanging emails anonymously with someone named Blue, who he forms a connection with. After he forgets to log out of his email account at school these emails fall into the wrong hands and life gets complicated for Simon.

SIMON vs. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is a brilliant, contemporary novel. Simon’s story was an interesting and intelligent read. I really enjoyed watching events unfold on the page. The story was well paced, and although there were a couple of aspects of the book I wasn’t too keen on, I thought it was a good read. The story was engrossing, and I really wanted to know what happened next. The characters were interesting and seemed very real. I also think that Albertalli wrapped up the story well, and that the whole thing felt finished. I enjoyed the diverse cast, and thought Albertalli painted an interesting image of coming out during high school.

I really liked Simon as a main character. I thought he was interesting, if a bit dramatic, and I enjoyed seeing his world through his eyes. I think Albertalli really captured the aspect of growing up where you realise that everyone around you is changing, and while there’s part of you that wants everything to stay the same it’s still really nice to see it. Simon has two best friends in the form of Nick and Leah, who I kind of wish we got to see more of. He’s also pretty close to Abby, who has recently moved to the school. As Simon is the narrator the narrative very much focuses on him, but there seemed to be a lot going on with Leah in particular in the background. I really liked how Albertalli wrote Simon’s family, especially his parents.

The main plot of the book revolves around a series of emails between Simon and a person who signs themself as Blue. Albertalli includes some of these emails in their own chapters to help structure the narrative. When we meet Simon he has been talking to Blue for a while via email, and on that particular day he is looking forward to a reply from Blue so he isn’t as careful as he could be. This leads to someone else getting their hands on the emails, and the plot of the book sort of falls out from there. I think Albertalli handled the plot both sensitively and realistically, which makes sense considering her background.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about SIMON vs. THE HOMO SAPIENDS AGENDA was that at times the drama felt a bit forced. There were two instances in particular that just didn’t work for me – but I’m not going to go into detail about them as there would be spoilers, sorry – but apart from that I thought that this was a very strong first novel. If you are a fan of contemporary romances then you should definitely give this book a try.

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