Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited was such a winner for me that I knew I just had to go back and read Becky Albertali's first novel, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. And, even better, it turns out that the book has just been made into a film called Love, Simon which I really want to see at some point. Anyway, the book has just been re-released in Australia and it includes some bonus interviews behind the scenes movie content and a sneak peak at Albertalli's next novel Leah on the Offbeat which will be released in Australia on April 30. 

Anyway, the novel tells the story of Simon and how he falls in love with Blue, the person he has been exchanging email's with for the past few months. This is something of a big deal, because Simon is gay, but he isn't out to his family and friends (and it's not one of those stories where it turns out that everyone knows already--they're all completely clueless.) Even though Simon thinks that his loved ones will support him, it's still big and scary. And there are two other problems--he's being blackmailed by a fellow student who has found his emails, and that he has no idea who Blue is, apart from the fact that they go to the same school.

This was an interesting glimpse of the life of a sensitive and occasionally off beat teenager who is struggling to find himself. Simon's circle of friends made for an interesting group, his best mate Nick, the effervescent Abby who has only been at the school a few months and his BFF Leah who has a bit of attitude and is somewhat jealous of Abby. It also raises the issue of how gay or bisexual people come out--shouldn't they have the right to do so in their own way and on their own terms, and also, how come people who are straight don't have to declare their preference? Why is it just assumed. There is also another issue raised about assumptions that we make about people, but I can't reveal much of that without giving away spoilers.

Simon vs the Homo Sapien's Agenda is very definitely a YA novel that will have broad appeal from readers well outside of the target audience. It's topical, well written and a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to reading Leah on the Offbeat. The first chapter certainly suggests that there are some deeper truths behind Leah's behaviour.

Highly recommended.