With five out of six required YA reads out of the way, get set for a long pause to come before I read another YA novel. There's still one more to go, so it's not coming yet, but I do believe I will invest in another genre next, even though I have enjoyed all of the five books so far. But I am starting to remember some of the things I grew to not like about a lot of YA fiction, mainly their lack of literary writing and tendency to veer toward popular fiction. That I'm seeing this in books that are widely acclaimed tells me something about the vast glut of publishing for the age group. But, I'm ranting and what I really want to do is rave (a little bit) about the latest book I read. Enjoy.
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon Spier is a junior in High School, and if that alone weren't horrible enough, he is also being blackmailed by a classmate. The deal is simple, Simon is to help this kid with the girl he likes, in exchange, this kid won't reveal to the world that he learned through snooping that Simon is gay. Seems totally fair, right?
Needless to say, Simon half-hardheartedly goes along, mostly to protect the boy he's been emailing with. Things cruise along pretty okay for Simon, until that other kid breaks the deal and Simon suddenly finds his place in the world up-ended.
Despite the premise, this is a delightful read. The friendships between the characters are truly heartwarming. Simon is a joy to listen to in all his quirks and flaws and strengths. And on the surface, it's just a very fun book. The whole "falling in love over email" was beautifully done.
Digging deeper is where I found myself a little unsure of the book as a whole. As I mentioned, the characters are a delight to be around, and perhaps they are little too delightful. There is nearly no tension between characters in the book, and when it does arise, it's a little too easily overcome (with the exception of the blackmailer, which I thought was handled expertly). And while there is some amount of push back from others towards Simon's outing, everything was a bit too "in a perfect world" kind of thing going on. And while I know the world is far more accepting that it used to be, I still think this was a bit on the unrealistic side. There was also something about Bram's character that felt a lot less real once we knew him than he did when he was just as voice.