Monday, July 27, 2015

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

It all started with a post on tumblr. Simon Spier was checking out his high school’s unofficial tumblr, supposedly “a place where you can post anonymous confessions and secret random thoughts, and people can comment, but no one really judges you. Except it all kind of devolved into this sinkhole of gossip and bad poetry and misspelled Bible quotes. And,” as Simon puts it, “I guess it’s kind of addictive either way.”

Anyway, this post by someone calling himself Blue was different and it just resonated by Simon. It put into words some of the things Simon felt and stuck with him so much that he had to comment on it, pseudonymously (using his secret Gmail address), hoping that Blue would respond. And Blue did.

Now Simon and Blue are emailing each other. A lot. About being gay. About their families. About pretty much everything, except their true identities. Blue doesn’t know the person he’s corresponding with is actually Simon, and Simon doesn’t know who Blue really is. Which Simon would really like to change, because he is totally falling for Blue.

Then Martin Addison—seemingly harmless Martin Addison—uses a library computer right after Simon, heads to Google, notices that Simon forgot to log out of his secret Gmail account, and reads some of the emails Simon and Blue have exchanged. And, well, you know, it’s not that Simon is ashamed or afraid of being gay. Because he’s not. It’s just that he hasn’t told anyone about it yet (except for Blue, who doesn’t even know the person behind is Simon), and it’s not Martin’s place to share this with anyone. But Martin has a crush on Abby, one of Simon’s best friends, and if Simon doesn’t help him out with Abby… Well, Martin just wants to let Simon know he has screenshots of the emails, and who knows what could happen with them.

Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was one of the more buzzed-about YA books published this spring. Yes, I know, buzz can quickly turn into buzzkill, but 1) it's not another high concept dystopian/post-apocalyptic/fantasy blockbuster--which is not meant as a dig against those books, but sometimes you want something different; and 2) I thought the buzz in this case was warranted. Because this book? It's contemporary realistic fiction that's both witty and wise, it left me smiling, and it just rings so true. Not the easiest combination for an author to pull off successfully. I will admit that I was a bit hesitant at first, what with the blackmail element of the plot, and not being in the mood for darkness or angst at the time. But while the blackmail attempt is serious, the book itself is warm and funny, and Simon and his friends and family (and Blue!) come across as awesome and real.

Book details:
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Young Adult Fiction
Published April 2015 by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray (ISBN 9780062348678)

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