It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed.

When Simon Spier’s private email is read by one of his classmates, he fears his sexual identity will be revealed to the school. He’s been emailing Blue for a while now, and can really be himself with him, even though he has no idea who he is. Martin uses this knowledge to blackmail Simon into helping him get a date with Abby, but what if Abby’s not interested? Is he ready for everyone to know he’s gay?

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is rather a sweet little book dealing with coming out, but also about identity and friendship. It is assumed that Blue is someone Simon knows, and it was great to keep guessing throughout. I changed my mind on several occasions but, in the end, I was as clueless as Simon.

Simon and Blue’s emails reminded me a little of the letters my friends and I wrote to each other at school, although ours weren’t anonymous or romantic. They did feel authentic in style, something I can imagine teenagers writing (at least the ones who don’t insist on using textspeak).

Maybe it would be different if we lived in New York, but I don’t know how to be gay in Georgia.

The anonymity of the emails highlights how for many, it’s easier to be open with someone you don’t know, and the internet can be a huge enabler for this. Tumblr appears as both positive and negative, it can be used for the power of good as well as bullying. And Simon feels it is easier to come out first to someone he hasn’t known forever, the risk is lower if they walk away. But telling your best friends and family? That’s something a lot harder to get past the worry of what ifs.

The school isn’t an openly hostile environment. Yes, they have a few idiots, but it felt like a decent bunch of kids and somewhere where Simon shouldn’t have been too worried about coming out. Of course, it’s a big step but I liked that it was more about Simon getting to the place where he can be open about it. It might have been accelerated by the actions of others, but his greatest worry really was losing Blue at the end of the day.

Everything’s a freaking secret, because everything’s a big deal. Everything is like coming out.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is published by Penguin and will be available from 7th April 2015 in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Also reviewed @ Death, Books and Tea

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.