Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Penguin Books, 7 April 2015)
SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is a burst of sunshine in book form, and you need its happiness in your life. Trust me.
Simon is sixteen and gay and a lover of Oreos. He's been emailing this guy anonymously – he only knows this guy as 'Blue', and he knows that Blue is also gay and goes to the same high school as he does. Neither of them are out and, despite only being able to communicate by emailing each other using secret identities, they're slowly falling in love anyway. But everything goes haywire when one day, Simon accidentally forgets to log out of his email while in the school library. His classmate Martin Addison reads them and decides to blackmail Simon into helping him get closer to Abby, one of Simon's friends.
SIMON is a diverse book in more than one way – sometimes when I read a queer YA book I'm worried that everyone will just be white because it's too much to ask for more than one form of diversity – but this book had a couple of black characters, and there's a lovely moment when Simon is critical of himself since he realises he has white as the default in his mind when it shouldn't be the default:
White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.
I also really appreciated that a side character in this book said he was bisexual. MORE SIDE CHARACTERS COMING OUT AS BISEXUAL IN BOOKS PLEASE.
Simon is a very relatable character. I loved his voice. He's honestly such a sweet guy and he's just ridiculously adorable and I want to be his best friend and have late-night talks with him. One of the best scenes in the book is when Simon goes to a gay restaurant/bar with his friends and meets some college guys and gets really drunk. I wanted to be there with him and to just laugh with him about the whole thing afterwards! I could really relate to his feelings on coming out, and there's such a heart-wrenching part where he gets angry at Martin for taking away his coming-out experience from him. I wanted to wrap him up in a hug and buy him an Oreo milkshake.
I also loved Abby! She's black and she's described as smelling like French toast which I think is the cutest description ever. She's really supportive of Simon. She gets really into dressing up and she goes to school in a full Cleopatra costume on Halloween and then changes into another costume for the night when everyone else just makes a half-hearted attempt for school and saves the full effort for the night. She just sounds really awesome and I was really hoping at one point she would turn out to be gay but that was just wishful thinking on my part, haha.
Simon had a great family as well! I ABSOLUTELY LOVED ALL OF THEM. From his dad who only has 12 friends on Facebook and makes a lot of terrible jokes, to his mysteriously cool little sister Nora who's suddenly got five piercings in her ear. They are all so sweet and delightful and play an important role in Simon's story.
I loved the suspense of waiting to find out who Blue is. I guessed pretty early on but I was so tense the whole way through, hoping my guess was right because I wouldn't have had it any other way! Thankfully the author didn't disappoint me. I WAS SO HAPPY I WAS RIGHT and it was just so cute and it made me so incredibly happy. Blue is such a cutie, you guys. YOU WILL ALL LOVE HIM AND BE HAPPY.
It's really wonderful that Simon and Blue developed their feelings and fell in love with each other through talking to each other on email. I found that part really relatable because I've formed deep connections and sometimes, yes, crushes through talking to people online. Having a relationship unfold through emails is pretty much one of my favourite things to see in a book. I loved reading Simon and Blue's emails to each other. The emails were so honest and funny and occasionally adorably flirtatious, and Simon and Blue told each other so many interesting stories about themselves. IT WAS JUST SO CUTE.
I do really wished we could have been able to spend a little more time with Simon and Blue after the reveal of who Blue actually is, though. There's only a very tiny bit of that and I really wanted more! I would have liked more of Simon's thoughts on what it's like to really be able to talk to Blue and touch him in real life rather than just reading his emails – what it's like to finally kiss a boy and have a boyfriend. I guess I would have appreciated an ending with slightly more complex emotional depth than just straightforward happiness. But I'm not really complaining that much. Happy is good. We need more happy love stories about LGBTQ teenagers.
SIMON is just a gloriously fun and sweet book. I grinned almost the whole way through. If you want an adorable book about love, friendship, and family that will make you crave Oreos and also fall completely in love with its narrator, you need to grab a copy of SIMON.
And now for a giveaway...
I really did love this book a lot! Cayce @ Niji Feels () preordered a copy for me because I won the LGBT Challenge 2014 giveaway, and I decided that actually, since I don't have that much shelf space, I'd keep my lovely personalised proof copy and give away the copy that I preordered so I can share this sunshine with someone!
This giveaway is open internationally, to anyone aged 13+. It ends at 12am GMT on 18 April 2015. I will pick one winner. The winner has 48 hours to respond with their address, and if I don't get a reply then I will pick another winner. If you use a Twitter account that is only for giveaway tweets, you will be disqualified.