This Book Will Make You Smile

May 29, 2015 books, reviews 14

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda cover by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-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.

Contemporary books are always a little hit or miss for me. There’s no magic, there are no ancient castles, fiery dragons, nor even some good old throne usurpation by an evil uncle who has to be defeated. It’s all quite dreadful really. EXCEPT. Except there are some books that hit home precisely because they’re set in our world. With contemporary books, it’s all about the characters for me. If I love the characters, I love the book. And Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda had some GREAT characters.

This book left me with the biggest smile. The romance was cute, but it wasn’t what sold me. That honor goes to Simon, who should probably win an award for most likeable protagonist. He’s awesome and fun and dorky and tries his best to be a good person. Basically, he’s someone you’d like to be friends with.

His family has THE BEST Christmas traditions. They’re an awesome bunch in general, and I really loved the family dynamics and that everyone has their own life and their own secrets, but in the end they all care for each other a lot. The same goes for Simon and his group of friends – they’re all such TEENAGERS, but in a good way. It makes you roll your eyes and feel for them and smile, because it’s such a good depiction of growing up. It’s all very relatable.

I liked the love story, but it didn’t blow me away, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I suppose I feel like the main conflicts were always external. And maybe that makes sense – it’s so much harder to fall in love with someone of the same gender and yes, it does create a lot of problems when it comes to discrimination and expectations – but I still would have liked to see more of Simon and Blue’s relationship apart from that. Maybe it was just because Blue’s identity was spoiled for me and that took some of the suspense out of it. I love epistolary stories, but personal interaction is different, and I would have liked to see more of Simon and Blue’s face-to-face relationship rather than just e-mails.

I like how the book deals with certain issues. I completely understand not wanting to HAVE to come out, because it’s just not a big deal to you, but you fear that everyone’s going to see you differently. It’s frustrating and it makes you feel like you’re harboring this big, horrible secret when it’s really just you being you and not wanting to have to explain or justify that every second of every day. Assumptions can be hurtful, people.

This review is a bit all over the place, but it’s not because I didn’t enjoy the book. I loved it loads, and I’m sure I’ll reread it again in the future. It’s up there with Fangirl when it comes to my favorite books this year so far. Coincidentally, it also mentions fanfiction. I might be biased. I loved the audiobook, but now I’m kind of sad I don’t have a print copy. Just this once, I might actually do the unthinkable and invest in both versions if I want to read it again. If only to be able to spell the characters’ names right.

RATING

This is a very good four cupcakes. Maybe even four and a half, but I can’t be bothered to find the picture link for half a cupcake now. It would be five if the love story had been a little more interesting, but I genuinely enjoyed reading it a lot, and I can only recommend it! I will definitely buy Becky Albertalli’s next book.

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14 Responses to “This Book Will Make You Smile”

  1. Alyssa

    I think Simon Vs was the first contemporary I actually liked. I simply don’t enjoy this genre as much as SFF, so it’s difficult for me to be pulled into the story. But Simon was SUCH a great character, like you say. And high-fives for guessing Blue’s identity, because I totally did that too!
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    • Vlora

      Vlora

      He was! Ha, I didn’t so much guess it as accidentally stumble upon it on twitter, grumble for a little while and then go back to the book because it was still very enjoyable. All the love for Simon!
      Vlora recently posted…This Book Will Make You SmileMy Profile

  2. Chantelle

    I really need to buy this book at some point as I keep hearing such good things about it. And…Fangirl…so glad it’s one of your favourites! I love that book!

  3. Romi

    Lovely review, Vlora! I’m so glad I visited your blog and caught it! And I’m really happy that you mostly loved this. For me, it was the romance and Simon’s brilliance that did it for me. I really loved how adorable Blue and Simon were (I’m so sorry you got spoiled! That would have been mega frustrating!) together and their interactions, though I wasn’t always with Simon as he tried to figure out who it was. I feel like he caused unintentional pain as he “investigated”.
    I love the family dynamic in this. It was so beautifully written and I really like how real and genuine (synonyms!) it felt.
    xx
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    • Vlora

      Vlora

      Thanks, Romi! Sooo frustrating haha, I would have loved to guess and figure it out for myself. It was still an awesome book though, so I ain’t complainin’ (too much). Yeah, I think he did a little… Obviously the other guy was into him, but Simon just completely disregarded him once he found out it wasn’t Blue. YES to the family dynamic! They were so fantastic and I loved their Christmas Facebook game haha
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  4. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I sooo want to read this. I’ve literally heard NOTHING bad about it (well, no low star ratings anyway) and fajksldaf I just…I love cute books. And I’m the same about contemporaries — they’ve really got to do something epic with the characters or I lose interest and run off to poke a dragon with a skewer for fun or something. *shrugs* I like ACTION and ADVENTURE when I read. But characters are my weakness, so if they’re adorable and loveable: I’m sold. XD Basically I need this book.
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    • Vlora

      Vlora

      I agree, dragon poking is far more enjoyable than boring contemporaries (sometimes I look at my sentences and wonder how they look out of context – or even in context, let’s be real). You DO need this book; I can’t wait for you to read it!
      Vlora recently posted…This Book Will Make You SmileMy Profile

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