Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes, contemporary YA really isn't my thing (The Lovely Reckless), and sometimes, it's more my thing than I ever knew (More Happy Than Not, although it helps that that one dips more than just a toe into sci-fi as well). I rarely find any middle ground. Well, there was The Great American Whatever...and now there's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Don't get me wrong, Becky Albertalli weaves a nice little story around Simon Spier (I keep misreading his name as "Spider," LOL), his role in the school musical (Oliver!, which reminded me of my own high school days reading and re-reading John van de Ruit's Spud), his secret email exchanges with a guy named Blue with whom he can be himself, his Oreo obsession (now I get why Oreo jokes are all over YA Twitter - the one thing I have most in common with Simon being a serious sweet tooth!), and his and Blue's mutual nervousness about coming out.

So, yes, the book does prove as adorable as promised. But only when Simon and Blue - and a couple of Simon's other friends, namely Abby - are involved. Most of the cast of characters have a way of fading into the background and not having definable personalities, and that, for me, is the book's greatest failure. I get the feeling Albertalli wanted to write so many characters into the story, but with only about 300 pages in which to do it, there wasn't enough breathing room for a bunch of fully fleshed-out personalities, so a lot of the supporting characters (except maybe Simon's parents, who are of course clueless af) really fall flat.

But, again, it's a sweet and funny little story, one that made me laugh a few times. And also cringe in sympathy with Simon a few times. No spoilers, but there's one character who does something so disgusting, I wanted to punch his lights out on Simon's behalf. And I was happy to find it loaded with classic rock and other assorted 80s music references - so, for once, listening to Pandora stations heavy on these styles actually jelled super-well with the story.

And I'll leave you with a very important quote from Simon's internal monologue, one I feel I relate to a little too well.

"Nothing is worse than the secret humiliation of being insulted by proxy."

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