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

[A full video review of this book went up a while ago on my YouTube channel. You can watch it here: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Do subscribe if you like what you see. :)]

I came across Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda when I joined BookTube. Or rather, when I started following all the amazing people on there. Every single BookTuber had only good things to say about this book. And when its sequel also made an appearance, I knew I had to get on with it. Becky Albertalli awaited me and I had to start reading her works as soon as possible! But apparently, I couldn’t do it soon enough because a movie based on this book came out and I hadn’t read it yet. The movie’s called Love, Simon and I can’t wait to watch it now that I have read the book!

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is about Simon Spier, a junior who is gay. He has a comfortable life and he knows that the people in his life will be okay with his coming out. But that is his pet peeve – why should only gay people come out? It should be normalized such that everyone should do so. Anyway, he is being blackmailed by Martin Addison, who has read Simon’s emails and figured out that he is gay. Now, in exchange for him to keep Simon’s sexuality a secret, Martin wants him to introduce him to Simon’s friend Abby, who incidentally is also the object of Simon’s childhood friend, Nick, much to his other friend, Leah’s dislike.

When I was just 35 pages into this book, I told myself I liked it but it didn’t make me go ‘Wow!’ I told myself it was going to be just a fun story that I could just breeze through and not think twice about it. I could feel the hope bubbling inside me – the hope that I could say the same after I finished the book. But no.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is so much more than just a fun teenage story about gay people. It is a lesson in itself, the way Simon thinks of life and people around him. When his relationships look like they are about to nosedive, you understand his perspective better. You start rooting for him and defend him against the actions of those around him. First off, you want to punch Martin in the face. Even if he does get apologetic, you tell yourself, you aren’t buying it because you’ve read and watched a lot of Game of Thrones and things aren’t as easy as saying ‘I’m sorry’.

Just because Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is the story of a gay person doesn’t mean there aren’t other elements in it. Not everything revolves around the fact that Simon is gay. He is a person first. He has feelings because he is human. When his email correspondence with Blue – the one that Martin happened to read – progresses into a higher level of flirtation, we can feel his thoughts and heart jumping out of the pages.

Simon is a teen who doesn’t let ‘gay’ define him. It is part of who he is, yes, but it isn’t just what he is. While straight people can go about their lives like it is no big deal, why isn’t it the same for gay people? This is what I absolutely love about this book. It normalizes all sexualities, like they should have been in the first place.

And then there are the cool parents. Their parenting makes you cringe because you know how teens can get. And it makes you smile because it is absolutely heartwarming how involved they are in their kids’ lives. Simon’s sisters Alice and Nora are trying to keep some things to themselves because privacy matters. Especially when you’re a teenager. Don’t we all know a family dynamic like this one!

I love how Becky Albertalli has spun the story in a way that tells us that people like Simon shouldn’t have to fight for their rights. Everyone has the same rights. Who are we to say that this person gets them and this person doesn’t? It is so unfair that I cannot even begin to explain how important I think it is to demolish this negative brand of thinking.

But instead of going down the dark road, Albertalli takes Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda on a path made of light. It makes you laugh, but most importantly, it gives you an ache in the chest without you even knowing about it. Now that I’ve read it, I understand why all those BookTubers were raving about it.

Thank you guys, for this amazing recommendations! I can’t wait to get the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat and dig in to it. But before that I have to read the long list of books that I acquired recently and that have been languishing on my shelves for years! 😉

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia.

If you’d like to buy this book after reading my review, please do so by clicking my Amazon Affiliate link given below. The price remains the same for you but I get a small commission off of every purchase you make.

Here’s the link: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

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