Friday, February 3, 2017

Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda, the William C. Morris award-winning debut by Becky Albertalli, is quite possibly the best thing I've read so far this year. It's got humor, heart, and a cast of uber-awesome characters you can't help but feel sorry to leave behind once the final page has been turned.

Although Simon Siper isn't exactly "out" to his friends or family, he doesn't think it would be too tragic if they somehow discovered this little known personal tidbit. He figures some of them probably suspect, anyway. But Simon is still reasonably shaken when classmate Martin "Adderoll" Addison claims to have read his emails and confronts him with a bargain. Ok, a blackmail: Help Martin win the heart of Abby or else. 

"Or else"...what?

Martin doesn't exactly say. He doesn't exactly threaten to expose Simon's emails to the whole school, but he doesn't exactly promise he won't either. But if those emails got out, it would be tragic. Not so much for Simon, but for "Blue," the boy with whom he's been communicating and is beginning to fall in love. See...Blue does want to remain in the closet. He's got very good reasons for it. Simon doesn't even know his identity other than they attend the same school. But still...if those emails got out, Simon would lose whatever chances he has with his elusive pen pal. And therein lies the potential tragedy.

So Simon agrees to help Martin. Reluctantly. Martin is all kinds of obnoxious, and Simon has some serious reservations about inflicting him upon his good friend. But hormones overrule everything.

And here we go.

What follows is a chain reaction of the most hilarious, sweet, and cringeworthy series of events imaginable. And every day brings new challenges and complications. Readers will toggle from laughing out loud to wanting to cover their eyes at the awkwardness in which the characters find themselves enmeshed. Mixed in between the madness readers are privy to Simon and Blue's seriously adorable communications, which deal with everything from flirting and inside jokes about oreos to serious issues about finally coming out to friends and family.

At the end, though, things work out happily for Simon and Blue. We also find out who Blue really is (and it's not who Simon suspected). No spoilers, though. You'll just have to read this one and discover for yourself.

It's easy to see why Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda won such acclaim. This is one book that actually lives up to the hype. --AJB

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