Book Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2015). London: Penguin Books.

Content Warning for potential spoilers and sexxx (but not really).

Rule one of reading the book after watching the movie: never judge a book by its adaptation. You’ll find enough differences between this and Love, Simon to recognise them as entirely different narratives. And while I love love love talking adaptation choices and the effects they have on a story, we’re going to skip all that in the book review. I will, however, assume you know enough about the franchise to not explain shared plot points to you.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is exactly what you’d expect from young adult fiction: it’s a quick, pleasurable read with simple concepts that don’t need much brain power. All excellent things if you read to relax (which I often do). Let yourself get carried away in the pleasure of reading, and don’t look too closely for some deep insight into growing up queer (they’re there, but they’re tokenistic at best).

Voice builds a believable protagonist, and Simon’s habit of overseeing things fit him just right (ie, more than just convenient plot twists). I also liked picking out clues Blue never explained to Simon later, as it seemed like him to stop explaining things once the point was made. For instance, Simon finds notes written in Sharpie listing music he’d recommended to Blue, and it’s never acknowledged by either character as a hint later in the book. This made the dynamic between them incredibly believable.

I will say it was hard to continue reading after chapter thirty-two, as it felt like the perfect ending to Simon’s romantic pursuit. For those playing at home, this is the moment Simon wanders the carnival alone, waiting for Blue to reveal himself. Albertalli teases us with Simon’s anxiety that his carelessness will cost him this one opportunity to meet Blue. The hand-holding scene that follows hit me harder then, because Albertalli had Simon’s anxiety growing within me as well. But there was still too much conflict to resolve with Simon’s friends at this point, and I wish all that had wrapped up earlier.

I also found myself confronted in the last chapter when they take a sharp turn towards sex. It was strictly vanilla until then, and I felt it did little for the story beyond giving Simon a cute moment with his B. I did find it cute, but then it ends abruptly here, and how dare you Albertalli. The trailing end left me knocking this baby down to a solid 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

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