Grammar enthusiast. Cat lover. Illustrator. Slytherin. Loki's Army. Spending a lot of time reading the world. And fanfiction. .
Actually at: www.thelittlecrocodile.com
A high school romantic drama that’s easy to read and relate to – I really enjoyed it and got through the whole thing before teatime.
The story is told by Simon, a ‘not-so-openly gay’ sixteen-year-old whose secret falls into the hands of a classmate when he leaves himself logged into his email on a school computer. Before long he finds himself blackmailed into playing wingman for class clown Martin in order to keep his sexual identity under wraps and protect the privacy of ‘Blue’, the boy he’s been emailing. And with Blue becoming increasingly flirtatious online, Simon is desperate to find out the boy’s true identity – he knows it’s someone at his school, but who?
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda had me enthralled from the off:
It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed.
We’re sitting in metal folding chairs backstage, and Martin Addison says, “I read your email.”
“What?” I look up.
“Earlier. In the library. Not on purpose, obviously.”
– Chapter 1
The characters are introduced very quickly and naturally, which instantly makes you feel at home with them and lets you fall into the story; this is narrated by Simon in a cute and light style, and features some of the correspondence between him and Blue, the anonymous boy he’s been getting closer to via email. The dialogue is well-written and funny, and the characters diverse and believable.
While some serious ideas are approached – the most obvious example being expectations of the norms in society, for instance, heteronormativity and white normativity – these are dealt with within the context of the story. No one suddenly gets murdered for holding a certain view to make a literary point. This is a book about kids set in a high school, and the consequences are realistic.
The story’s main focuses are identity and friendship, with Simon gradually coming to realise that he isn’t the only one changing and that there’s a lot about his friends and family that he doesn’t know.
I also liked the many cultural references within the book, which range from Assassin’s Creed to Elliott Smith (Waltz #2 is particularly excellent) to yaoi to fanfiction (Drarry all the way), instantly making the whole experience more engaging. Speaking of that last item, I would recommend this book to readers of slash fanfiction – the characters are very easy to get into, and the style is reminiscent of some well-written examples of FF that I’ve read in the past. (In fact, I’d be interested in knowing whether Albertalli has ever dabbled in fanfiction!)
I also liked that this wasn’t quite the same story that you tend to get with high school drama, i.e. Person A deceiving Person B, then falling for them, then Person B finding out and all hell breaking loose. While there was still a fairly standard structure to the story, it never approached the sort of cringe-worthiness that is quite common to the genre. This book knows what it wants to be and it fills its shoes very well.
Fluffy and light with the ultimate message that people are all different and that we could all do with paying more attention to one another, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is well-written and fun; highly recommended for fans of the genre (and fanfic aficionados!).
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda will be available to buy from 7 April 2015. I received an advance copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.