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

simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda_goodreadsNo. of pages: 303 pages

Publisher, Date: Penguin, April 2015

Setting: Atlanta, Georgia (United States)

SynopsisSixteen-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.

My thoughts on the book:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was not a book I had in mind. I mean, I never thought I’d be reading a book on the young and the openly gay. Not that it’s bad (it’s not, and I’m not homophobic either) but it just never crossed my mind to read one. I’m not very much into young adult fiction either, so you won’t find them on my shelves. The only reason why I wanted to read the book was because I kept seeing people on Tumblr sharing it and reblogging it to their news feeds! People who are avid readers like myself whom I follow on Tumblr.

So when my sister’s friend and former housemate from Liverpool turned up in Malaysia one day for vacation, and happened to have the book with him, I knew this was my chance to read it and see what the hype is all about. I only had a week to read the book as her friend was only going to be in Malaysia for that week.

I don’t often read books within a week but this time, I was able to. And I was glad to have that opportunity as well. This book, in one word, was ‘unputdownable‘! Seriously, it’s not a bad book. And yes, that word exists. You can find the word ‘unputdownable’ in the online dictionaries of Merriam-Webster, Cambridge English, Oxford and Dictionary.com.

A week after reading all about Simon Spier, I realised that in the year of 2018, it was the most wonderful book I’ve ever read! Even if it isn’t something that I’d normally read, like I said in the paragraph up there. I was a little skeptical though. C’mon, a book about a 17-year-old closet-turned-openly-gay junior high schooler whose hobby is devouring Oreos and befriending someone who shared an analogy on vast houses and tiny windows. Not something I’d pick up at the bookstores and go, “Yeah, I should really read this.” I’d have laughed at the ridiculousness of it. Also, I’ve not seen what the pages look like inside. Yes, I have this OCD tendency to browse on Amazon and see what books look like inside prior to buying or borrowing them. But this time, I didn’t have the chance to do it and my sister’s friend was only here for a week. So I took a leap of faith and borrowed it anyway. And then I realised I was wrong about judging a book, literally, by its cover.

The book was so enthralling and intriguing right from the start, that it kept my eyes glued to the pages and my butt glued to my bed for long hours on end. On weeknights, I end up missing my bedtime trying to squeeze in as many chapters as possible. What dragged me into the plot deeper were all the cheesy, typical phrases that I thought I’d only hear in reality, hardly ever in a book. Awkwardness achievement unlocked? My brain’s an asshole? Spooning the dog? Challenge accepted? And a bunch of other stuff that you hear the younger generation spouting these days. I may not be the right target audience for the book but it was still my kind of book. I’m not a keen follower of 9GAG but I am aware of the memes floating around the internet space, so I am quite aware of some of the words in the book. But I kept having to remind myself that Simon Spier is a guy who happens to like and eventually fall in love with another guy, not a girl.

There was a little twist at the end, though. The boy whom Simon had suspected of almost ruining his moment would have been someone you’d have in mind as well. The way Becky Albertalli wrote the book, it might as well have been him. But the one who caught Simon’s heart was not who he (and you, the reader) thought it was. I liked it. The ending. It goes to show that things don’t always happen for a reason. And I liked how the author made some space for your average teenage angst and friendships on the rocks. After all, life is not all that peachy all the time!

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