Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Release Date - April 7, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 320 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Do you like books with cookies, romance, realistic characters, and delightful banter and snark? Do you also like mysteries, and stories about family and friendships? If you answered yes to any of the above you need to read Simon VS. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. If you answered no, I still think you need to read this book. Becky Albertalli has written a funny, feel good d├ębut novel that surprises you with it's heart and depth.

Becky Albertalli's clearly gifted at creating characters. This is a character driven story in all forms. The mystery of who Blue is ends up being secondary to us discovering who Simon is. His voice is so resonate that it's hard to believe he's not a living, breathing teenager. The added detail of the secondary characters having their own story arcs that are separate from Simon was one of my favourite aspects of this novel. We may not see all of their journey, because we are busy following Simon on his, but Becky makes sure we know there is plenty going on behind the scenes. It added an extra layer of realism to the story that is sometimes missing from stories like this.

Family is an important part of Simon's life, and therefore the story. It never fails to impress me when a family is predominately featured in a YA novel. This novel takes it one step further and gives Simon a loving, functional, if imperfect family. They support each other, they fight with each other, but at the end of it all they love each other.

There is a line where Simon muses that everyone should have to 'come out' as gay, straight, bisexual, etc in the most awkward way possible. This, for me, sums up this book more than anything. This book asks questions about how and why we perceive people the way we do. The way we limit them with these classifications and the notion that there shouldn't be something as arbitrary as a default when it comes to something as complex as human beings. Plenty of the characters surprise each other in various ways during the course of the novel, and this gets to the heart of the story. People can surprise us, love can surprise us, and it can be a beautiful thing.

Prepare to be a sighing, giggling, flailing mess over the romance in this one. It's adorable, particularly because it involves the friends before romance trope. This always works best, especially for me, because it allows the characters to learn about each other, form a connection that feels true before having them fall in love. Through email correspondence we see them flirt, discuss the deliciousness of an all Oreo diet, the hardships of coming out, and everything in between. When Blue is finally revealed and they are together the sparks that fly feel inevitable and warranted. The tension between them feels earned.

Those who are fans of neat, tidy endings will appreciate the bow that is wrapped around the ending of this one. This adorable story brings to mind those romantic comedies where even if everything isn't exactly how you want it to be in the end, you still walk away smiling and giddy.

Have some Oreos and milk near by as you'll immediately be craving them as you devour this novel that is just as sweet as those delicious cookies. You'll fall in love with Simon, his family, his friends and Blue during the course this squeal worthy read, and leave it wanting to be a little kinder to those around you.

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