Seriously, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda broke my five-month reading slump. Contemporary reads are usually my personal cure to such a nightmare, but I tried flipping through two books of the said genre these past couple of months and they didn’t have any effect on me so I dumped them to my DNF pile right away. There’s something about the tone of this particular book that makes it hard to put down. To that end, I was able to read it in one sitting.
There’s not much to say about this book, though, but I guarantee that it’s a fun read as it kept me grinning all throughout. Being in Simon’s head was generally a fun experience, made more amusing by the first-person perspective style of writing.
The first chapter starts abruptly with Simon Spier, our protagonist, being blackmailed by his classmate, Martin Adisson. Martin pulled up Simon’s e-mail account from a computer the latter previously used, where he found out about Simon’s secret online relationship with another guy who goes by the pseudonym “Blue.” The coming out thing doesn’t really scare Simon because he knows that his family and friends will be all out supportive about it, but the thing is, he and Blue have something beautiful brewing through their online conversations, and so he naturally wants to protect both their identities so as not to risk whatever they have. Ergo, he agrees to Martin’s proposed arrangement –that Martin wouldn’t disclose what he has read in the e-mail account as long as Simon puts in a good word about him to Abby. Following this arrangement is a series of situations featuring Simon with his family and friends, with snippets of Simon and Blue’s correspondence in between.
I think the characterization makes the strongest point in the story. The author provided interesting build-up for each character and they are all substantive to the plot that I bet I will not be surprised if they all get their respective spin-offs. To boot, Simon has everything we want in a guy best friend — the wits to formulate puns and comebacks, the cute awkwardness, the cool family we all yearn for, and a high-key obsession for Harry Potter. Along with that is the acclaimed diversity among all the side characters. I also particularly love how natural and genuine their personalities are. Even the supposed antagonist, Martin Adisson, has his own vulnerabilities.
White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.
Meanwhile, the mystery about Blue’s identity is concealed until the last few pages, and I guess that’s another factor that has kept me glued to the book. Arbetalli has kept me speculating about who this Blue person might be. My guesses were all wrong, although I wouldn’t have liked the story as much if I guessed it right. Wouldn’t that be too cliché if that’s the case?
Simon and Blue are both closeted boys anonymous to each other even though they go to the same school, and the idea that they fell for each other not by their appearances but by how their minds and feelings interconnect all the more makes the romance aspect between them engaging. However, despite the presence of romance, the struggles and responsibilities that come with being a closeted person is more dominant in the context. Simon is coming to terms with who he is while dealing with numerous situations. His relationship with Blue is only a supporting element that aids him through his struggles.
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.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda provides a simple plot, but it’s adorable nonetheless. It features all the essentials any reader would expect from a coming-of-age novel, mixed with extra glee because of the LGBTQ theme. I have yet to watch the movie adaptation, and I have a strong feeling that it will be just as charming as the book.