Saturday, 10 March 2018

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

'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 (I'll just call it 'Simon vs.' after this, I think) has the titular Simon in an online relationship with 'Blue'. When Simon comes out as gay to the world without his own decision, he has to figure out what is that he wants to do next.

As far as the characters go, Blue was my favourite. Simon I liked also. But the others - the sisters, parents, friends... They all stayed quite distant to me throughout the journey, even though they seemed like nice people and their interactions with Simon definitely brought something to his character.

I don't think this book needs to be a gay story (even though it definitely is, a rather good one too), because it's definitely something feel most people can relate to. Referring to the quote I picked to start this review with, Simon is bothered by how he feels like he's constantly changing, and such is the case especially when you're growing up and constantly growing out of yourself from yesterday. Hence I'd like to contest almost everyone has at some point struggled with the hassle of 'coming out', which is one of the stronger aspects of this book.

Unfortunately, Simon vs. is another one of those very American young adult books that are starting to wear me out. It's probably very relatable to people who live there and do things Simon does every day, but to me it felt alien and kind of killed some of the immersiveness. Is that a problem that has to do with me, or the book? This time, I'm going to say it's the book.

Here's the reason: I feel like in another culture, this bombardment of information would possibly be done in a more thoughtful way. For an example, when I read 'The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane', there wasn't much pre-existing knowledge of Chinese culture required of me. But Simon vs. is constantly speaking about Poptarts and bleachers and Reese's - things I know in passing from all the times I'm assumed to know them in American pop culture, but also things I'm never fully explained. I never gain a confidence that I fully understand what they mean. Maybe it means that the book assumes it's written primarily for an American - a fair assumption, to be fair - but it's just a bit of a shame.

On the bright side, Simon vs. is set in Atlanta, Georgia, just like Gone With the Wind. It's mainly so exciting because I would never have recognised is as the same place if it wasn't named. as such It's weird what can happen in 130 years or so.

I will definitely read Albertalli's books in the future as well (this autumn, there will be a collaboration effort between her and Adam Silvera, which sounds so exciting!). Even though this one wasn't my favourite, I still found it quite enjoyable.

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