Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: April 7th, 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.
“And the feeling that people are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows… He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.”
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a contemporary since I don’t normally read those so I’ll try to keep this simple. Contemporaries might not be my usual genre but there are a few that are definitely worth breaking my fantasy streak for and Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was easily among those few.
Needless to say I absolutely loved it! The storyline was super easy to follow, the characters (especially Simon) were absolutely amazing and there were plenty of funny and heartwarming moments which was exactly what I needed after a super busy week. I loved the fact that the book focused on so many different themes. Sure, it was mostly about Simon’s inner struggle with himself and his relationship with Blue, but it was also a story about friendship, about family and about learning to be yourself which is something I definitely can relate to.
“Everyone should have to declare one way or another and it should be this big awkward things whether you’re straight, gay, bi or whatever.”
Simon’s relationship with Blue was probably one of my favorite parts in the book. I loved reading their email exchanges so much and I was rooting for them to be together right from the start. I also loved the fact that this was a book with a gay protagonist but that the writer went to great lengths to show how normal that gay protagonist is, in contrast to the usual stereotype that gay people can’t look or act normal. Simon is perfectly normal and perfectly unique at the same time and that’s what made me fall in love with him in the first place. It usually takes me a while to warm up to characters but let me just say that Simon was instantly likable. He is absolutely adorable, extremely smart, and all in all someone I’d love to have as my best friend so we could eat all the Oreos together and endlessly talk about Harry Potter. Yes, Simon loves Harry Potter so how could I not love him?
“The way I feel about him is like a heartbeat. Soft and persistent. Underlying everything.”
And speaking of best friends, I absolutely loved Simon’s relationship with his own best friends and how it evolved during the book. I loved that they were all so different from one another but that they were always there for each other because really, that’s what friendship is all about. And don’t even get me started about all the Harry Potter references in the book! As an undeniably obsessed Harry Potter fan, I absolutely loved reading those!
I also want to say a huge thank you to Becky for writing a super realistic and honest story that sends a wonderful message about diversity and equality. I’ve never had to struggle a lot with my identity like Simon did but I know many people are going through something like that and it is nice to see those people are represented in YA literature for once.
“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.”
Final rating: Definitely five stars for this adorable and wonderful story! Like I said, I’m not big on contemporaries but it’s contemporaries like this one that make me love the genre a lot more! Would absolutely recommend this to anyone and a small piece of advice: if you’re going to read this, make sure to have Oreos close by! I’ve already devoured three packs this week and it doesn’t look like the craving will settle down any time sooner! Thanks so much for this Simon!