I decided to add a contemporary YA novel to my list this year for a few reasons, one of them being that I have little to no idea what’s out there for kids these days (beside the Twilight and Hunger Games worlds), additionally the YA novels of my time were integral in shaping my love of literature and sense of self. I was very pleased to discover that a novel like Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda exists.
Even if the character development and writing style were stripped away, Albertalli would still get high marks solely for the basic narrative in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Adventure. A problem generally exhibited in YA novels, films, and TV is the attempt to tackle every topical issue at once as opposed to focusing on one major issue and allowing others to pop up organically. This flaw weakens the intended impact. Albertalli, on the other hand, hits the nail on the head with her approach to dealing with common teen issues in today’s society without over saturating her plot. While the main story follows Simon and his journey as he copes with his sexuality, Albertalli peppers in other issues (cyber bullying, heartache, alienation) without distracting from the main narrative.
Now, we add in Albertalli’s easy but high quality style (another general issue I have with YA…we should be upping kid’s literacy game, not dumbing things down for them) and fully realized characters. Well, there’s very little to critique.
Far too often we project unrealistic images onto younger generations of what their high school experience should be, Albertalli’s ability to keep it real throughout Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is what corralled my attention from beginning to end. I was giddy (yes, me, giddy) getting caught up in Simon’s email exchanges with his mystery crush. I felt a part of Simon’s social circle, because I’ve been there too.
Rating: 4 Secret Admirers
Special shoutout to SW for the recommendation