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

 

Simonvs cover picI realise everyone else has already read this book, and I’m slow off the mark, but I thought I’d review it anyway.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a YA coming out romance set in and around a Georgia high school.

I have a thing for first person stories with a really distinctive voice, and this definitely fits. The main character and narrator, Simon Spier, is a funny, likeable 17 year old, who starts up an anonymous flirty email friendship with another boy in his school. Neither of them are out as gay, and are not quite ready to share with their fellow students. The story starts when Simon accidently leaves his email logged in on a school computer, and another student finds out his secret.

(For non-US readers.) The main action of the story takes place in a high school in Georgia. High school in the UK is so much more low-key than in the US (no homecoming parades or school spirit week), so no matter how much Saved by the Bell and My So Called Life I watched in my teens, there’s always that slightly weird cultural disconnect. Also, way more cars, and much less alcohol. The differences didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment, it’s just a thing that’s there.

Even though Simon is struggling with coming out, what to do about his growing relationship with the mysterious Blue, and there’s plenty of tension around the discovery of his secret, the story is overall both funny and upbeat. It’s a sweet story of love and acceptance, and although there are dark moments, it never really gets lost in angst or despair. I saw the identity of the mystery e-boyfriend quite a bit before the reveal, but that didn’t really get in the way of my enjoyment, as the characters are fun and involving. It’s a quick and uplifting read.

(Coming soon: reviews of Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood.)

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