The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

A tale of love-letters and Oreos; My review of ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli

on October 14, 2015


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Becky Albertalli. Penguin. April 2015.

Straight people should have to come out too. And the more awkward it is, the better.

Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for.

But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated.

Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal . . .

It’s a holy freaking huge awesome deal.

At the beginning of October, I had plans to spend all month reading lots of creepy-scary books in the build up to Halloween. This hasn’t exactly gone to plan, because as the weather turns colder and the evenings indoors turn cosier, d’you know what I’m in the mood for instead? Books that warm you up inside, rather than chill you to the bone! Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was exactly that kind of book, and reading it was like literary hot chocolate (or whatever your seasonal beverage of preference!) – warm, sweet, and simply lovely. It was my first read this October, and I adored it so much, I finished it in one sitting!

The story follows 16-year-old Simon Spier, who is secretly falling in love for the first time with a boy calling himself ‘Blue’, whom he has been exchanging emails with after responding to an anonymous post from Blue on their school’s Tumblr ‘confessions’ page (‘Creeksecrets’). Simon saw something in Blue’s post he related to completely, and started messaging him, under the pseudonym ‘Jacques’.

“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.

I mean, I just had to know him.

Eventually I worked up the courage to post the only comment I could think of, which was: “THIS.” All caps. And then I wrote my email address. My secret Gmail account.”

Blue attends Shady Creek High School with Simon, and may even be someone he knows, but the boys have agreed their identities should remain secret until they’re both ready to come out to their friends and families. However, Simon may be forced to do this much sooner than he’s comfortable with, because Martin Addison has gotten hold of their email correspondence, and he’ll only keep the screenshot he’s taken to himself if Simon agrees to help hook him up with his best friend Abby. The problem is, Abby’s not interested in Martin, and Simon is a decent human being who doesn’t want to force his friend to go out with a guy she’s not into, so he’s not doing a very good job of sticking to his side of the blackmail arrangement… But, if he doesn’t do what Martin asks, what will that mean for his blossoming relationship with Blue (who definitely isn’t ready to tell Simon, let alone the world, who he is)?

Simon is a loveable and relatable protagonist, and somebody you’d definitely want to have been friends with at school. As there were so many things I liked about his character, I thought I’d make a little list:

1) His observations about identity and sexuality are spot on.

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

I have so much time for this quote, and if it cropped up on Tumblr, I would reblog the hell out of this piece of wisdom, typing ‘THIS’ in giant approving capitals beneath.  I also loved Blue’s suggestion in response that heterosexual people should have to come out too, and it should be as awkward as possible; ‘Awkwardness should be a requirement’.

2) Simon has a hilarious undying passion for Oreos.

He spends an unnatural perfectly natural amount of time thinking about them, and a lot of the banter between Simon and Blue is Oreo-based! I have to admit I’m tempted to try out the full-day Oreo-heavy menu he devises for Blue in one of his emails, because it sounds somewhat delicious.


Image via Stylecaster

3) Simon likes his parents!

This may sound like a weird thing to mention, but hear me out… So many protagonists in YA novels angst at/hate on their parents near-constantly, but Simon has an awesome relationship with his family which was refreshing and lovely to see. I loved the fact that he hangs out with them just for the sake of spending time with them (another rare occurrence in YA fiction); One of my favourite aspects of the novel was the Spier family dynamic and all the Spier-family traditions, for example sitting down to watch and dissect their favourite trashy TV show Bachelorette together at the same time every week (they even Skype Simon’s sister Alice, who’s away at college, to get her in on the discussion), and ‘Facebook Scavenger Hunting’ on Christmas Eve (where they all sit around in their pyjamas with laptops, competing with each other to find things like the most dramatic breakup, or worst ‘mushy disgusting couple’ status on their timeline).

4) Simon sees the good in everyone.

I don’t mean in a cheesy, saintly kind of way, but just in a thoroughly-good-human being way. For example, even though Martin is blackmailing him, Simon still manages to find likeable qualities in him (such as his goofy sense of humour), and can’t bring himself to fully hate him. Simon is not a doormat, and he does stand up for himself against Martin, but I respected that he was capable of seeing beyond the shitty thing Martin was doing to him – it takes a big person to be that forgiving.

5) Simon reads Harry and Draco fanfiction!!!

I don’t think I need to clarify why this is just made of pure awesome! It also goes to show that fanfiction definitely isn’t ‘just for girls’!

The loveliest thing about this book was the development of Simon’s relationship with Blue. I haven’t come across many books where the characters start falling for each other without knowing what the other person looks like, and I thought this was a fun, unique concept, adding another layer to the story; as well as being one of the most adorable romances I’ve read, it also came with a mystery to solve!

I figured out Blue’s identity early on, but I wasn’t completely certain until the reveal whether or not I was correct (I was! Yay!) Guessing who Blue was didn’t ruin the book for me at all, because I felt led in enough different directions throughout the novel that I doubted my guess constantly; practically every time Simon had a conversation with another boy, I was thinking ‘maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s him’…

I’m so happy Blue turned out to be who I thought he was, because they made the sweetest couple, and the scene where they finally met was everything I hoped it would be. Despite their anonymous conversations throughout the story, there was plenty of chemistry and flirtation in their emails, and when they got together for real, it felt just as rewarding as if they had been getting to know each other face to face all along.

Above all, I can honestly say that this book brought a smile to my face, page after page, and I’m so glad I read it. If you’re in the mood for an entertaining, heart-warming, and thoroughly charming novel, this one’s for you!

giphy (10)

Image via Giphy

If you loved this book as much as I did, and can think of any similar books I might enjoy, I’d love to hear your suggestions!


5 responses to “A tale of love-letters and Oreos; My review of ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli

  1. Aura Willow says:

    This sounds really nice, what is the page count? I like the sound of the way the book promotes gay equality…not so sure though about the comment re: being straight should be awkward as does that not counteract the previous comment? I think even straight people have struggles i.e coming out that you are pregnant.

    But I do get what the character was saying, and it sounds like a good read.

    Great review 😀

    I tagged you in my recent post xxx did it notify you as it notified me when I linked to my other post.

    • mudandstars says:

      Thanks! It is lovely 🙂 I’m not sure how many pages as I read on Kindle, but it’s quite a quick read. And I think the comment is more meant to be a joke really, to show how silly it is that people make such a big deal out of sexuality, rather than just accepting it. For some reason I didn’t get a notification, it’s a bit weird, but I’ve noticed wordpress has done that a few times now! Thanks for the tag and I’m definitely up for doing that one, may take me a few weeks as I’m a bit backlogged with posts, but it looks like a fun one 🙂 xxx

  2. Aura Willow says:

    *rather silly why there is so much discrimination now a days. (Not sure where that whole sentence disappeared to when I clicked submit?!)

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