Monday, January 9, 2017

Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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.

Rating: 4 Stars

I've been told to read this for so long and thank the Oreo Gods that I finally read it! My husband actually read it ahead of me and liked to tease me as I gasped and reacted to various scenes throughout the book.

I loved all of the nerdy references that Becky Albertalli weaved into her story. They didn't feel superfluous, which can be such a pain in the rear. If they're shoehorned in, then if feels like I'm being patronized and I hate that.

The cast of characters were wide and varied. Some I loved and some I wanted to flick off the page like a stray piece of confetti.

Martin wasn't exactly a villain, but I certainly disliked him a whole lot, especially with the crap that he pulled. The obvious thing is the blackmail that is alluded to in the summary, but there's more and I tell you, I wanted to throttle this kid. I don't know that I ever really understood him. He was blackmailing Simon for a date with some girl he barely knew. What has to be wrong with you to make you think that blackmailing someone is the answer to anything? Plus he got overly defensive at one point in the book even when the girl he supposedly had a crush on told him that it was alright. He seemed to be the type of kid that has a white knight image of himself, but that image never holds up as he well finds out.

Alice, Simon's older sister, was a great girl, but her story line was minimal and felt forced, like we were supposed to think there was something more to it than there ended up being.

I'll admit that I was trying to guess Blue's identity for a good portion of the book because why not? There were some false leads but by golly I did it and I was so happy that it turned out to be who I thought it was. I know very much want to see this book as a film just so we can see this hidden romance blossom. Would it convey well on the screen? Would people who had never read the book see it coming?

And three cheers to Blue for braving the Tilt a Whirl for Simon. That's on the same level as a roller coaster for me and believe me, sir, I get it! 😲

The pacing in the first half of the book was a bit slow, but things picked up as the play that Simon was involved with began picking up speed, as he began exchanging more emails with Blue, etc. I listened to the first half on Audible and I commend Michael Crouch for embodying the characters pretty well.

There were scenes that I loved and I will admit that I squealed aloud a couple of times. I loved when Abby and Nick took Simon to the bar and he accidentally picked up a college kid. I loved when he was talking to Nick and the other soccer kids (because REASONS!). I loved the moments that he and Blue have after they officially meet/start dating. Each moment is precious and you can see it like they're delicate moments hanging in the air, memories that slowly solidify into a hug, a kiss,

The only thing keeping this book from a full five stars is the pacing in the beginning because it made me doubt whether I wanted to finish the book. I'm glad I finished it, though. It was a great book about Simon's LGBT+ experience and I was thankful to read it because it felt authentic and not overly dramatic or rose tinted. I look forward to more books from Becky Albertalli because she had a good feel for the voices of her characters and gave to us, instead of strokes of keyboard, fully fleshed people that we can visualize as living breathing people standing before us and living.

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