Monday, 31 August 2015

Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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.

Date of Publication: 7th April 2015

So in my Top Ten Tuesday I mentioned this book (and fangirled all over it) while I had still been in the process of reading it and can I say I LOVE IT SO MUCH!
This is what I said about it then and all of it is still truer than true:) :

I'm reading this book right now but I'm already fangirling about it because it's not just like eating an amazing chocolate bar - it's like eating your favourite kind of chocolate cake, your favourite chocolate bar, brownies, and all of your favourite comfort food being laid out before you while your all-time favourite movie happens to play and pillows form underneath you till you're in some kind of fluffy paradise. What I'm incoherently trying to express is that this book makes me smile more than most books have ever managed! It's been a while since I've loved a narrator so much that I've just wanted to watch Harry Potter with them and give them a great big hug because they deserve a thousand. Simon is a Harry Potter fan (a.k.a. he's one of us;)) who is a lovely friend. He's a bit uncomfortable at parties and has a golden retriever called Bieber - can I just say I love him? This story is about Simon, who is gay, falling for a guy he only knows as Blue as they've been emailing after Simon saw a beautiful written post Blue wrote that he needed to tell him he loved. Simon is being blackmailed by someone who read his emails so he's in a tricky situation plus he knows Blue and he go to the same school but not who he is (it was unexpectedly suspenseful!) Reading their emails and seeing Simon's reactions to them is like eating candy. This is a book about the characters (like how The Office is about the wacky and wonderful characters) so if you love that then give this a go!

This book makes me feel happier than happy. IB causes so much stress but while reading this I felt like I was on a cotton candy cloud and I couldn't keep a smile off my face. I loved everything about this book so ending it was a painful bittersweet experience because I wish I could erase my memory of it and read it all over again.

Simon is the kind of protagonist and narrator that you want to be your friend because it's so fun to be in his mind and you can't help but see the world in his bubbly, sweet and unique point of view and wish that you could buy a pair of sunglasses tinted with his colourful perspective. He's someone built up with such love that I can imagine him in reality and I can imagine having a crush on him even if I knew he's gay:( He's been emailing this guy he only knows as 'Blue' for quite a while and would love and fear meeting him. Slowly over email they become close and he can't help but wonder who Blue is. His curiosity became mine and it felt as suspenseful as a mystery novel because I felt so invested in the characters. I wished I could hire Sherlock Holmes to help Simon figure out who this funny and lovely grammar nerd of a guy is. BUT I wouldn't actually because I loved (how many times I have used the word 'love' in this review;)) how Becky Albertalli resolved this mystery. It ended perfectly. At one point I was worried I wouldn't like the truth of who Blue is but my faith in this story overruled and my trust in the author was way more than well deserved. 

Also the author manages to capture a teenager's voice in an impressive way. She did work as a psychologist at a high school so she gained insight into our flowery and strange minds. Sometimes when adults try to harness a teenager's voice it feels awkward and like they're trying to capture a voice they haven't quite understood, but here Simon feels like a real and lovable teenager who I could pluck out of the book at anytime.

The romance was something special. Blue and Simon have something like a meet-cute via the internet (Tumblr I believe;)) that turns into something so much more. It was so refreshing to see a romance that starts with words - that starts with two souls meeting. I know that physical attraction does play a role in romance, but sometimes it is has too much emphasis and this takes a way from the genuine connection between the characters. The pace of their relationship is just right. Their relationship from friendship to more is enviable because they just make each other happy and that is beautiful in its own simple way. Reading their emails made me feel like I was allowed a privileged sneak peak into a conversation that showed just how powerful words can be.

Simon's friends and family make up a big part of his life and so a big part of this book. They're all like a huge, hilarious and compassionate family. Their interactions felt genuine and beautiful because Simon valued his friends and his family which was refreshing when compared to other YA novels. None of the characters ever felt like they had a label on them - often with books that deal with high school there are stereotypes used (and sometimes they are wonderfully and skilfully challenged) but here all the characters had many dimensions like fascinating, real and relatable pieces of art. Nick isn't just the guy who plays guitar, Abby isn't just the cheerleader and none of the secondary characters feel like they're being used to fill up space. They have relationships and feelings too - they're the protagonists of their own stories. Relationships are really what makes this book feel like it's written with sunshine. The focus on the characters is done without exploiting them at any turn and without them falling into the expected. Simon isn't defined by his sexual orientation and like he says throughout the book, a part of him wants coming out to be a big deal and the other part strongly doesn't want it to be. He and Blue both have personalities as bold and sweet and special as a impressionist painting so that's how we know them and just how we love them.

I think I'm going to stop myself because I can just feel more metaphors coming on - comparing this book to some of the things that make me feel like I can never stop smiling, things that make me feel at home and comfortable and things that I want to hug so I shall stop myself before I ramble on:) 

If I could say one thing I would say: Give this book a try if you want to remember how books can make you feel like it's harder not to smile than to smile;)

So, obviously, 5 burning bright stars!

1 comment:

  1. I really want to read this book! I've heard so many amazing things and I've just kept putting it off because I don't have it. I definitely have to get it - thanks for this great review!