Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (7th Apr 2015)
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.
It’s one thing that is blatantly obvious in the YA genre, which is the lack of good LGBT-themed books. I liked Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan and Noah in Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun was such a sweetheart and an incredibly tender soul. I could go on and on about gay characters in the YA books I’ve read, but when I found out that there was another gay character that I could get acquainted with, I knew I had to get to know Simon Spier.
Simon Spier is gay, obvs. But he’s not out and proud. In fact, the only person who knows that he’s gay is his online friend, Blue, who he shares emails with. Blue doesn’t know who Simon is because Simon’s screen name is Jacques. And Simon has no clue who Blue is because, well, they met anonymously online. The whole problem starts when Simon forgets to log out of his email account and his schoolmate, Martin, stumbles upon his emails and uses them as a leverage for Simon to convince his friend, Abby to go out with him. (I know)
Personally, I thought Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda was adorable and the romance is cute but for some reason, I expected more. I felt that there wasn’t much depth in the plot as there wasn’t much development from the story, from the beginning until the end, the pace was stagnant and towards one point, I really had to stop and give myself a break as I had to slug through it because the plot felt like it was going absolutely nowhere. And the entire hoo-hah about finding out who Blue was, was in fact, quite a bore.
The majority of the book was pretty much a surreal, stressful and annoying circus. The whole mystery behind Blue’s identity was actually quite intriguing at first. I adored the email exchange between Simon and Blue because they were heartfelt, adorable and cuter than a litter of kittens stumbling onto each other. However, after a while, finding out and guessing Blue’s identity became a chore because of the push-and-pull element that really annoyed me.
I understand that Simon is his own person and he’s got his own personality and all because he has a quirky voice but after a while, I felt that he was trying a bit too hard? It was unbearable to a point that I thought Simon was quite an annoying git. Get this. Simon couldn’t be more of a generic gay character. You know why? He’s in a play and the focus on the constant rehearsals didn’t help with the plot either. I didn’t feel connected to the characters in the book, not even one of them stood out. There were quite a number of characters that could have been molded into the plot to make the story more complex, but they were flatter than a pancake steamrolled by a freight train. I hate to say this but some of them were just bordering on annoying or dull and completely inconsequential.
Please allow me to cast protective charms and spells around me before I get shot at, because I seem to be the minority who didn’t even like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, sadly. I really did try to like the story but it was too simple and there was literally nothing going on besides Simon trying and failing to find out who Blue was and the whole “coming out” element in the book was rather clichéd and generic. There were some cutesy moments between Simon and Blue during their emails but ultimately, it wasn’t enough for me to invest my feelings and emotions in the story. I didn’t even feel anything when I found out who Blue was. Yes, the word I’m looking for is indifferent.
Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is out now.