Publication date: 7/4/15
Publisher: Penguin Books
Source: proof copy
Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the most talked about YA releases of the year so far, and with good reason.
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.
Funny, adorable, painfully awkward… this story perfectly captures the struggles of the modern teenager from blackmail and betrayal to a personal battle against a heteronormative society. Simon is a smart and engaging narrator and I really felt I could identify and empathise with him despite not having been in his situation myself. I enjoyed the readable tone of the novel; I’m always wary of letters/emails/text messages etc. in novels because it has become a very over-used trope, but I found the exchanges between Simon and Blue original and sweet and they really worked for this story.
In many ways, this book reminded me of John Green’s books, although Albertalli’s characters are more genuine and believable as teenagers. The mystery surrounding Blue’s identity is cleverly handled – every time I thought I knew who he was something happened to make me doubt myself. In the end, I was really pleased with his identity and it made a lot of sense without being hit-you-over-the-head obvious.
Simon is set to be one of the YA reads of the year and will appeal to fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and David Levithan. This is a fabulous debut and one of my favourite reads of the year so far.