But I get it now.
I get the buzz around this book.
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda follows Simon, a not so openly gay drama student whose private emails between him and the mysterious Blue are being used against him so Martin Addison can get a date with Simon’s best friend, Abby. As the year progresses and the emails become distinctly non-platonic, Simon is forced out of the closet and Blue’s identity is threatened.
I was really expecting a lot from this book. I mean, every conceivable person who likes books has read it and recommended it to me. And there’s a quote on the cover claiming its the love child of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, so of course I had super high expectations.
The first half of this book had me a little stumped. I liked the idea. I liked the quirkiness of the main character. I liked the relationships. But I was missing that spark. That magical thing tying everything together that’s totally obsession worthy.
I didn’t find that piece until the second half of the book.
But the first half didn’t at all lag. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it not been crowned the baby of John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Of course I’m not a huge fan of Rainbow’s, didn’t find Fangirl to be that amazing. But you know how I come undone at the mention of John Green.
That being said, I’d say Rainbow had the dominant chromosomes in this love child. The book’s romance was slow-moving, awkward, totally realistic, and totally quirky. It completely matched Rainbow’s style. It was told through multiple mediums. And it was overflowing with that first time love jitter bug dance we all seem to do. The only place I found some similarity to THE John Green was in Blue’s advanced dialogue. Other than that, I wasn’t finding myself thinking wow, this reminds me so much of John Green.
I’ve never read a book that’s reminded me of John Green, and in order for a young adult novel to remind me of John Green, it needs to be lyrical, it needs to be mature, aged up some, and it needs to have that John Green vibe I can’t even begin to describe.
To me, this novel was VERY young adult. That’s perhaps why I struggled with it at first. The dialogue screams teenager, specifically the inner dialogue, the writing wasn’t overly metaphorical or matured. The whole thing was very teenaged, so I think our author, Becky, did an outstanding job with this debut.
Which we need to mention that. This book was her debut. That’s a huge deal, something I can only hope for for my first book.
So that being said, let’s break down what I liked about this book.
I liked how it was paced. I can’t say for sure if I thought the beginning lagged at any point. I had just finished reading the magical prose of Jonathan Evison, so it was a drastic switch. But I think what worked about this book was how realistic it was. How easy I could imagine everything. How the color of the cover gave the whole thing this great vibe.
I loved the relationships, the characters, the side drama and side plots, the closeness and how I felt like I was apart of each relationship from the get go even thought I wasn’t. I love authors who keep you in the loop. I love how they can almost read your mind and explore those side dramas you’re sort of interested in. Basically I love when the conflict isn’t just unfolding around the main character… because that’s not how life works. Every day our family and friends go through things.
I loved the air of mystery. The whole book you’re yearning for Simon and Blue to meet. That’s what kept me reading. And their romance ended up igniting that spark I needed to put this on my recommend shelf.
The romance was so young and adventurous and fresh and exciting and everything you want a first romance to be. It was risky and sexy and so many things wrapped into one and you really only get like fifty pages of it, but it’s so worth it. It wasn’t at all cheesy, which was amazing. I hate cheese. So much. It turns me off in a hot second.
I thought the characters had it GOING ON. The parents were phenomenal. The siblings were phenomenal. I don’t often read about a sister, brother, sister dynamic, especially when the brother is gay, and it was too cute for words.
Simon’s friends really knocked it out of the park. Leah specifically. She is such a complicated character and there was so much side drama with her that I don’t think I could have kept reading without. I thought she just added that final piece of atmosphere I needed to love this book.
“Did you guys talk to Leah?”
Nick and I look at each other.
“Not yet,” Nick says. He kind of deflates. It’s tricky, because as much as I love Leah, her presence changes everything. She’ll be moody and snarly about Nick and Abby. She’ll be weird about Midtown. And I don’t know how to describe it, really, but her self-consciousness is contagious sometimes.
AHHHHHH. So ingenious. So So So brilliant. We all know a girl like this, and that’s why her character was to die for. I mean, and we always think that that girl is so hard to break down, but Becky did it brilliantly and in just one paragraph. She’s moody and her mood rubs off on you and I have several friends whom–I love no less–I feel exactly this way about.
The internal dialogue was great. You guys know how much I love internal dialogue. And I love it when the character doesn’t hold anything back. I love when he wonders about sex and how he looks at people around him and is so quick to be like yep, that person sucks.
Everyone laughs, and honest to God, this is the absolute best kind of moment. The auditorium lights are off except for the ones over the stage, and we’re all bright eyed and giggle-drunk. I fall a little bit in love with everyone. Even Taylor.
She also NAILED the snooty drama chick on the head. AKA Taylor and her not-so-subtle hints that she has ALL her lines memorized.
Another really strong piece of the book: the family dynamic. God did she do a great job with Simon’s family. The way Simon felt about how his parents made a big deal out of everything gave you that tension you expect when a book follows a gay character attempting to come out of the closet.
But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.
These are my favorite lines. It just describes the complicated task of growing up so well. I just turned twenty-one and I swear the first fifty glasses of wine with my mom were so cringe-worthy, I could have barfed all over the place.
In any case, great story. Definitely recommend for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Jesse Andrews. Wouldn’t recommend to fans of John Green, I don’t think the writing has much in common but the genre–young adult.