Release Date: April 7, 2015
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli | Goodreads
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.
This book had me grinning at so many spots, it's impossible to name them all. This is going to be in the top ten of many bloggers's lists for contemporary YA novels published in 2015: yes, that is how fantastic Simon Spier's voice is. You know how Stephanie Perkins's novels are full of saturation, the voices so PRESENT and easy to picture? That ALL CAPS sensation where you feel like you really know her characters? Yes, this book reminded me of that effect. Simon's voice is original, full of humor and realism. He will have you laughing and grinning and then by turnsthinking deeply about the defaults of the world, about the difficulties he has to face because he's going against the mold and of the little things which people (like his father) say that can be taken badly.
The side characters in this novel are truly something to behold as well. There aren't that many contemporary novels with large character casts; I am reminded of Lauren Oliver's contemporary novels but few else. Here we have Simon's adorable family, his best friends and their extended lunch table crew, the cast of the drama musical he's in, his teachers and romantic interest. The sense of community that Oliver has explicitly (in Panic) stated that she hopes her readers will find in her novels is here in spades in Becky Albertalli's novel. The characters by turns support Simon and isolate him sometimes without even realizing it, and the conflicts raised by the extended cast feel realistic and handled so well. The bullying with the blackmail situation, the meeting of a romantic interest online and the difference of an internet and in person connection, the pressure and expectations raised with coming-out, and the coming-of-age and learning to love and embrace yourself running alongside so many other issues. Simon's character development is wonderfully enhanced and developed alongside the other characters and the novel's themes.
One of the really fantastic things about having a large character cast means that this romance feels fresh and almost unpredictable. Simon doesn't know the identity of his pen pal, who he falls in love with, and having a large cast means that you're kept on your toes as you, like him, try to figure out who Blue is. Their email exchange ensures that they are friends before they enter a relationship - before they're even sure that they're physically attracted to one another - and are so, so adorable to read. You see their chemistry before they recognize it and take their friendship to the next level. They'll have you craving Oreos and grinning before long. The plot of this adorable coming-out coming-of-age romance is only amplified by Simon's humorous and real voice.
With the sense of community, large character cast, and friendship that would appeal to Lauren Oliver's contemporary fans; an email-based romance (at first) that I would imagine would also appeal to fans of Jennifer Smith's This is What Happy Looks Like; and the fresh, humorous voice that would appeal to Stephanie Perkins's fans, Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a sure-fire hit. This combination of coming-of-age character growth, romance, and awesome characters ensures that Becky Albertalli is on my to-watch for future releases. So, so adorable.