Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Book Review

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Don’t let the title of the book throw you. It’s a  really really bad title. Like… really bad. The title of the movie is a lot better. Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda sounds so negative and heavy while Love, Simon is a lot better. It’s hopeful, it’s cute, and it’s a lot closer to what the story is like.
Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli sets the book up as a standoffish, negative, preachfest. But this story is anything but that. Here’s my review.

I’ll be honest. I had no interest in this book when it came out. I’ll be even more honest. I didn’t pick it up because of the title. I didn’t even read the synopsis. I didn’t just judge a book by it’s cover, I judged it by its name. You know what? I feel justified. ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ is great advice unless it has to do with actual books. A cover can tell you a lot. The author’s name is on the cover and if you have strong feelings about that author it could sway you. The cover design can be an indicator too. Is there a half naked dude on the cover holding a swooning woman in his muscly arms? It’s probably a trashy romance novel. If you’re not a fan of that genre, then there’s no need to pick it up. The title is also on the cover. Just like I mentioned before, the title turned me off. The cover was cartoony but the title told me that this was going to be heavy and preachy. The kind of book that like-minded people pick up to be outraged over a one sided argument. But let’s cut this rant short. Enough about the title. Let’s talk about the story. I loved the story because I feel like it tackles an issue that doesn’t come up a lot in movies.
Simon vs The Misleading Name is about a high school kid named Simon (go figure, right?) who gets blackmailed after a email he wrote gets discovered. The email was between Simon and an anonymous gay kid who goes to his school. The two started an online relationship when the kid posted anonymously on Tumblr that he was gay. The thing is, Simon is gay too and is having trouble coming out. Simon must decide, will he give in to the blackmail to keep his secret? Or do the most terrifying thing he could think of, come out?
What I really loved about the story was that Simon views his family and friends as accepting. They’re not some bible thumpers with hate in their hearts. They’re loving and understanding people, yet coming out is still terrifying to Simon.  In popular media we mostly get stories like this with a family that will have some explosive reaction. It doesn’t matter if they eventually come around, they initially reacted poorly and before that, gave the main character some reason to be scared. But Albertalli gives us another view. A loving and understanding family AND a main character terrified of what might happen.
There’s a lot more to the story than that. The main story revolves around Simon and the anonymous Tumblr kid. But there are numerous side stories that show us a nice chunk of the life of a relatable and sympathetic character. Simon get’s blackmailed by another student. There’s love triangle drama between some of Simon’s friends. Simon has a play he has to prepare for but he’s in this play with both his blackmailer AND someone he thinks is the Tumblr kid. Couple all that with Simon wanting to, but being scared to, come out and you have a well thought out story that never gets boring.
All of the characters were very well written and best of all, realistic. Everyone from Simon to his blackmailer felt real, like I knew them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were all based on real people or, like Wonder, based on a true story. But it’s not, this all came from the mind of Becky Albertalli who made each character fully fleshed out and relatable in some way.
The story was paced really well. Things kept happening. I never skimmed to the end to see how many pages I had left until the end of a chapter. I’m going to sound cliche here, but it moved at the speed of life. Nothing felt forced or came across as disingenuous. By the end of the book it really feels like enough time has passed and enough has happened for the characters to grow. They learned lessons and it didn’t happen over one crazy night.
The writing style was simple. Just my jam. That’s how I write too, if you can’t tell. Literature loves to sound fancy and throw in big words like parsimonious or circumlocution. Words that no one really uses. The kind of books I like to read have wonderful stories and high enjoyability, just like Simon VS The Blackmailing Bully. 
Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a great book from start to finish and it can be read by most everyone. Do you want a story with a deeper meaning? Pick this. Do you want a story that tackles current world problems? Pick this. Do you want an enjoyable story with likable and relatable characters? This is the book for you. I prefer Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I really do. But I’m so glad I picked this up.
Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda gets an 11 out of 11.

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