Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda

Real talk: I'll do my best impression of a car salesman to get you to read this book. I swear it will make you smile (the novel, I mean... the impression's kind of hokey). 

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli, follows the story of Simon, a teenage boy who, after accidentally leaving his email open in the library, is blackmailed into helping one of his classmates land a date with his friend Abby. At stake: the threat of revealing both Simon's closeted sexuality, as well as compromising the identity of his penpal - and massive crush - Blue.

This novel was one of those I was most looking forward to checking out from the library... I even renewed a library card to a branch that is 45 minutes away from where I'm living now, to get at it without bearing through a heinous list of placeholders.

Then, once I got my hands on my library copy, I read it in one sitting. About 75% through, I looked up, and saw the clock had just started to turn the edge of 1:00AM. I just snuggled further down in my bed and kept at it.

To be honest, here's the long and short of my opinion of it: despite the heavy subjects handled within its covers, it's a big ol' happy, squishy, smiley fluffernutter of a novel. There are stakes involved, and you feel Simon's pain in a lot of it, but thankfully, they didn't make things as dangerous as they could have been, widely thanks to the more tolerant cultural settings we have nowadays, when it comes to making something a contemporary teen novel that handles sexuality. But trust me, this book will make you smile like an idiot.

Not to mention I got a massive craving for Oreos the entire time I was reading it. (This led to an unfortunate discovery: there is such thing, in fact, as too much of a good thing, and that thing is Mega-Stuf Oreos.)

To tell you the truth, one of the reasons I wanted to read this book, was because how vehemently it was hyped by Margot over at Epic Reads. Then again, it was also hyped on every list I saw during Pride Week, and accompanied by several adorable "Love Wins" hashtags the day of the Supreme Court ruling. When it comes to being even-handed and well-reflective of the realities of contemporary gay teens in America, I'm not the only one who thinks this title fits the bill.

Not only is Simon a fully formed character - and an absolute idiot, sometimes -  but so are his friends. I was so pleased to see this kind of book treated not in caricature, but with well-rounded and culturally-reflective characters, taking on the problems that still face LGBTQ teens today.

Being gay serves as the primary focus of the romance, as does Simon's blackmail at the hands of a fellow teen, but while the subjects are heavy, they are treated with the respect they deserve, alongside a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that retains Simon's sense of reality and humanity. While diversity in YA is really stepping up their game these days, and it's amazing to see sexual orientation being handled, it's not his being gay that makes you want to read it, but who he is... and he is adorkably awesome.

I want so many people to read this book. In fact, I immediately thought of several people to rec it to while reading... I even sent my sister snapshots of pages of the book I thought she'd like (primarily because they directly reference Drarry fanfiction within the first 100 pages).

And, you know, it's just frickin' adorable. Seriously.

Final Verdict: Read this book in one sitting, like I did, while making yourself sick on Oreos. But don't worry: even if you don't have the opportunity to supply yourself with the appropriate snackage, this book is plenty sweet reading enough.

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