New Young Adult Fiction: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Sometimes reps school the booksellers; sometimes booksellers school the reps. The latter is the case with this smart, winning YA novel about coming out. I started getting raves from booksellers before I even had a chance to crack the book.

While it’s a coming out story, I’m happy to say there’s none of that earnest “issues” tone to this charmer. If anything, it owes more to the queer-confident tone Glee and the realistic approach to teenage relationships that makes Rainbow Rowell ring true for so many readers.

Bookseller fans made this is an Indie Next Pick and it’s got two starred advance reviews as well as praise from writers like Andrew Smith who called it a “remarkable gift of a novel.” Agreed!

After a ‘goobery nerd’ named Martin discovers Georgia teen Simon Spier’s secret email relationship with a boy who calls himself ‘Blue,’ Martin blackmails Simon into helping him romance Abby, a new girl who has been welcomed into Simon’s lunchroom clique. The threat of being outed by Martin forces Simon to come to terms with his sexuality, and his wise insights—Why do only gay people have to come out? Why is that the default?—add heft to a plot that is both hilarious and heartbreaking….Page-turning tension comes from the anonymous quality of Simon’s emails with Blue, which are interspersed with chapters written in Simon’s first-person voice that chronicle Simon’s increasing frustration with Blue’s reluctance to divulge his identity, as well as the deepening nature of the boys’ relationship. Blue may hesitate, but readers will fall madly in love with Simon.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Funny, moving and emotionally wise.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“If Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan had a book baby, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda would be it. This is the story of Simon Spiers, a gay teenager tiptoeing into love and out of the closet. When another student finds out about his online pen-pal/crush, Blue, Simon must deal with being blackmailed and forced to come out on someone else’s terms, and this is on top of the stresses that go hand in hand with being a teenager. Simon handles it all with the perfect balance of sardonic mental-commentary and charming hilarity; he really is the ideal 1st person POV narrator. Becky Albertalli uses her wonderful cast of characters to explore a number of serious issues (gay bashing, coming out, racism) without ever losing the humor that makes this novel so great. This is the best LGBT+ coming-out-and-of-age novel that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.”
— Brittney Gabbard, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

“Finished Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda last night, really debated about emailing you at 2 am. I just thought it was so cute and charming. It has everything and covers everything–with the friendship and the relationship and the family dealing with everything. I didn’t see the ending coming at all. I honestly thought I would read the whole thing and not find out who Blue was. I was so shocked, but also just really happy. I loved it.”
— Dylan Wells, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (9780062348678) by Becky Albertalli. $17.99 hardcover. 4/7/15 on sale.

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