Oh my goodness. I absolutely adored this book. There are a lot of political and social issues that fit perfectly within the context of Becky Albertalli’s story. Being a gay teenager in the South, being outted as a gay teenager, the dangers of social media, internet relationships, etc. I could go on for a long time about any of these issues, but today I want to focus on the book. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a young adult novel set in Georgia about a 16-year old named Simon who has been put in a precarious situation. Emails between Simon and a mysterious male student know as “Blue” fall into the hands of his classmate who uses the emails to get Simon to help him with his love life.
There are so many things that I loved about this book that I don’t quite know where to begin. As you read along with me, you’ll notice most of my fiction books are contemporary. I love them. But there’s contemporary fiction and then there’s contemporary fiction. Being from Georgia myself and having a high school gay best friend, I found that a lot of the narrative Albertalli creates is extremely realistic. She even included the struggle between finding Chick-fil-A’s often discriminatory food delicious. It doesn’t get more real than that.
Moving beyond that, Albertalli has a real ear for email correspondence. My favorite chapters were the ones containing email exchanges between Blue and Simon. She successfully wrote these chapters to be central to the story without overshadowing the narrative in the rest of the chapters. I often find books that choose to tell the story over multiple mediums usually only have the mastery of one. Albertalli proves me wrong as every chapter roped me deeper into the story than the last one.
I would be remiss not to mention the intriguing plot of the story. Simon and our antagonist, Martin, have a strange relationship throughout the novel. There are several points in the book where the reader forgets that Martin was the catalyst in Simon’s life. I liked this because so rarely in life is a true antagonist so overwhelming present in protagonist’s space. Albertalli also kept me guessing at the resolution of the novel until the very end. I won’t spoil it for you, because I want to you read it. It’s a good twist!
One of the last things I really enjoyed about this novel was Simon as a main character. I’ve seen some reviews that bash him for being self-centered and selfish. I won’t argue with that. But I will also say that I don’t know very many 16-year-olds that aren’t winning awards for bringing about world peace who aren’t selfish and self-centered. Simon had great character development and the reader gets to see him wrestle with his sexuality, his friendships, and getting older. I think that there’s just the right amount of deliberative thought to keep a reader engaged.
You should read this if…
You enjoy really cute love stories.
You are looking to read LGBTQIAA friendly literature.
You like contemporary!
You want a different kind of southern book.