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Selan

Selan

Hi! I'm Selan. I love anime, sci-fi & fantasy, Kirby and 90s JRPGs. Right now I'm trying to expand my collection of books.

 

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

Okay. I wrote a pretty bad review about this book when I first read it, and I didn't even finish it. It has a lot of flaws, a load of stereotypes about gay people and the LGBT community, and frequently reads like a very bad fanfiction. 

 

However, I recently had another go at this book. And...I'm surprised at what it turned out to be. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit! It wasn't so obvious at first, but there is something of a coherent story going on between all the stereotypes and cliches and bad Tumblr-isms going on within these mellow pages.

 

So, here's the thing. This book is supposedly a gay romance between two guys at school. They communicate by email, but for the most part they keep their identities hidden from each other, and their relationship develops throughout the book.

 

This was probably my favourite part of the book. Simon and Blue, as they're known, have quite an engaging relationship and it even reminded me about some of my early online relationships at school. It was sweet, and it was cute. It wasn't too "girly", as slash romance is often portrayed by yaoi writers who don't know what they're doing. It was just right. I really liked it.

 

So, our story begins when one of the boys in Simon's class, Martin, mentions that he's seen Simon's emails with Blue (showing that he's gay), and blackmails him.

 

What the hell man. We've barely started the book, we've barely established this gay protagonist, and already this straight guy is blackmailing him? To get him in with a girlfriend, of all things?

 

Oh, boy. 

By the way, we've also got a love triangle. A straight love triangle, between Simon's friends. You know, his straight friends. Because that's what we want to read about in a book about gay romance.

 

I enjoyed the characters. A bunch of drama goes on in the book - I couldn't even bother to explain it all, but I will say that the author had a good grasp on what coming out is like for gay people, homophobia in general, all that stuff. She did it right and I can appreciate her for that.

 

I don't really appreciate all the gay stereotypes she put in, however.

Tegan and Sara? Seriously? Harry Potter? One of the main characters is a fangirl who is into Draco/Harry? (Actually, she was written pretty well. I expected her to be a lot worse.)

 

And what the hell is up with all these Tumblr-isms? They're everywhere! It's like the author found a bunch of stuff that she knew would be popular with Tumblr girls who like gay things, you know, mostly slash fangirls, and she put them all in her book. 

 

Oh, by the way, Tumblr is mentioned multiple times in the book. The author refers to it as "the Tumblr".

Dude. Nobody calls it that. It's just called Tumblr. Nobody says "I saw your post on the Facebook." It sounds so annoying and just tells your reader that you haven't done any research whatsoever.

 

What's amusing is that later on in the book, Simon ends up coming out to his family and friends. And everyone's...fine with it? I mean, there's not much homophobia at all. It's when he comes out to the general public where problems start.

 

Anyway, I don't really want to ramble about this book. It's a good read, but it is just FULL of little irritations which put me off. It's good, not because of the portrayal of gay relationships, but because of the characters and plot and the high school setting. I mean, you can kinda tell that the author is some straight woman who wants to write about her cute little gays. It's just so painfully obvious.

 

For what it's worth, I ended up liking it quite a bit. The protagonist is a complete idiot, by the way. There's a point in the book where he says that he always thought Jews came from Israel. There's another point when he starts thinking that Martin (the straight guy blackmailing him about his sexuality) is really Blue (the gay guy that he's been communicating with about his sexuality), even though the former is a piece of shit throughout the whole book.

 

I don't even know how you can make such a dire mistake like that. Seriously. I'd narrowed down Blue's identity to two people about halfway through the book. It wasn't too hard, really...

 

Anyway. I'm giving this 3.5/5. It was good, but...I don't know, it was just chock-full of flaws. It's not aimed at gay people, either. It's a gay romance aimed at straight girls who go on Tumblr a lot. And in that respect, it could do a LOT better.