Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

By Colten M., Grade 9

Looking for a fun but genuine read all the way through?  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, follows Simon Spier, a gay teen, as he falls in love for the first time—over email.  I’ve already read this book twice and most recently in less than a day.  It’s easy to get immersed in the story and fall in (platonic) love with the characters, and it’s hard to let go at the end.

The plot: The greatest joy in 16-year-old Simon’s life are his emails with Blue, an anonymous student from his high school.  The boys connect over their shared sexual identity, humor, and honesty, careful to not reveal their identities and risk ruining everything.  Soon though, one slip up by Simon leaves the class clown, Martin, with the power to do just that.  The only way to protect his and Blue’s privacy is for Simon to agree to blackmail—a very high school kind of blackmail that might just disturb the balance in Simon’s friend group forever.  With relatable characters and realistic drama, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda touches on homophobia, racism, and struggles with friends and family, but with a (maybe a bit too) happily-ever-after ending.

What I loved: Hints and clues about Blue’s identity are left for the reader throughout the book, giving a fun mystery feel that I loved.  I was also a huge fan of the character development, and found Simon to be an easy character to root for.  The cast was diverse and complex.  

One note: There are many Harry Potter references, which can seem insensitive considering J.K. Rowling’s transphobia, but it’s important to remember that Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was published in 2015, before Rowling’s transphobia became apparent.  Additionally, Albertalli (the author) identifies as a trans ally, but there are no trans or nonbinary characters in the book.  I would not say this is a reason to avoid the book, just something to keep in mind.

Who’s it for?  While this book has important LGBTQ+ representation, I would also recommend it to most any teen since it’s a relatable coming-of-age story.  For example, important themes are about change and being yourself, as displayed in the quote, “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” (56).  My age recommendation is 12+ (I read at age 13 and 15) because of some sexual references, kissing, drinking, and foul language.  I would say this is not excessive and that Simon and his friends are generally good role models.  Homophobia is ever-present but not unbearable.

More of the ‘Simonverse’: The author has written some sequels to this book that you definitely don’t have to read to enjoy this one (no cliffhangers) but this book might just leave you begging for more time with the characters.  I’ve read both The Upside of Unrequited and Leah on the Offbeat and found them to be fun books as well, though not quite as good as this one.  There is also Love, Creekwood, a novella I plan on reading.  Additionally, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda has been adapted into the movie Love, Simon (which I have not yet watched).

Final Thoughts: Overall, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a great book with great characters and a great plot!  I would recommend it as a fun read for pretty much everyone!  One of my favorite books!  5/5 stars!

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda