Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

sim

Book Title: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli
Pages: 303
Published: 2015

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is funny, enjoyable, and heart-warming.

Official Summary

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Review

Every once in a while, there comes a book that will change the way you think, blow your mind, and make you see the world from different perspective. But some times, all you need is a book that makes you smile and believe that there’s hope in this world, and that love matters. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is the latter. It was told from first person perpective of a junior named Simon Spier. Simon is smart, has a cool family and friends that love him. However, he’s been keeping a secret, he is gay and is tangled in online relationship with a guy he called Blue. One day, he forgot to log out from his email in school’s library and his private conversation with Blue was read and screencapped by his school friend (Pay attention kids! Always log out from public computer). Blackmail ensued, friendships were tested, love was found, and between it all, he still has to attend school, rehearse for school drama, Oliver!, and deal with his parents—who always make a big deal out of everything he does.

The parts that I love

Simon Spier. By now, I have accepted the fact that I prefer sarcastic nerdy guys to bad boys. There are times when I don’t agree with what Simon did, but overall he’s a very likable narrator. (Also, he loves Harry Potter and ships Harry/Draco!) I feel for him when things don’t turn out the way he expected, and I root for him throughout the book.

His friends. I really really like the girls, both Leah and Abby. I understand why there’s a rivalry between them, but just like Simon, I refuse to choose between them. My precious angels. *group hugs* I like pretty much all of his friends, even Taylor Metternich.

His sisters. Both of Simon’s sisters, Alice and Nora, are really cool. I would want them as my own sisters if only I don’t already have two (very cool, very nice sisters—just in case they read this blog). I like how close Simon is to his family, which is refreshing because it’s a kind of thing I rarely found in contemporary young-adults these days.

Ms. Albright. I would bring her a big bouquet of flowers.

The parts that I don’t like

Blue. I don’t hate Blue. He’s just… not interesting for me. Also, I found out who he is before Simon does, and I think you would to. The clues were just there.

However, I like the person who turned out to be Blue. I know, man, it’s weird. I just don’t like the version of him that wrote the emails, but I like the person described by Simon. I guess it’s because I like Simon, so once Blue was introduced throughout Simon’s eyes, I like him, but when it was just his emails, I do not really care about him.

Verdict

I binge-read this book in like 6 hours when I was supposed to be reading two other books in my TBR. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is addictive, funny, and sweet. We certainly need more diverse books, both character-wise and theme-wise. As it turned out, it’s refreshing to see a book about a gay teenager surrounded by friends and family and teacher who support him. Simon was still a victim of bullies, which shows you that even with strong support system, something could (and would) still go wrong. Overall, it IS a great book, the one you would want your children to read to let them know that it could be okay.

Final Score

4st
4 stars (out of 5 stars)

Review: Six of Crows

lbar
Book Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo

There are books that started slowly then build up halfway through. There are books that started slowly and never pick up. Six of Crows is neither. It hits the right note since the very beginning and keeps up the pace until the end.

Official Summary

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Story

The book began with a prologue telling the story of Joost and a Grisha named Anya. If you ever read the Grisha trilogy books from Leigh, you might be familiar with the term. Basically, Grisha are people with special gifts. There are three orders in Grisha, the Corporalki that can control living matter, the Fabrikator that can manipulate materials, and the Etherealki that can control stuff like fire or tide. The whole purpose of the prologue is to introduce the readers to the power of substance called the jurda parem. You can think of it like amphetamine but much more addictive. When given this jurda parem, a Grisha becomes much more powerful and could do things he/she could not normally do. The downside of it, for the Grisha, is that they will become addicted to it.

This book is not about the Grisha per se, it’s about 6 teenagers trying to pull an impossible heist to ‘kidnap’ the inventor of jurda parem. They were promised tons of money to do the task if they manage to do it.

The Characters

The main character is Kaz Brekker, nicknamed Dirtyhands, who is the leader of the squad. Even though Kaz is the leader, I feel that other characters were given a fair amount of space to tell their story. They are Inej, Nina, Jesper, Matthias, and Wylan. Each of them has their own problem, and this brings unique perspective to the story. Throughout the book, you’ll find that each of them has a motive of their own to do this mission. I could not tell you much more than that because I’ll spoil the story, but they are not your usual protagonists. It’s interesting because they are not heroes trying to save the world, these kids are thieves trying to accomplish a mission for money, but they’re not the bad guys either. It’s more like, “Hey, we’re just doing our jobs and you don’t want to be standing on our way.”

The dynamics of the characters is what makes this book great. This is not by any means a romantic book, although you will catch glimpses of it and it will drive you crazy and wanting for more. I like how Leigh makes them work for it. I also like how they are ‘not friends’, but will do almost anything to save each other neck.

Final Comment

I bought this book on a whim and I’m glad that I did. It’s great on so many levels. The writing is terrific, the pace is good, the characters are flawed and believable. This is my first Leigh Bardugo’s book and I certainly hope it would not be the last.

Final Score

4.5 out of 5 stars

REVIEW: Queen of Shadows

Book title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J Maas

Summary:

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series contrinues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

That was the official synopsis of the book. Now, here is an accurate summary of this book from a goodreads review. Okay, let’s begin. *deep breath*

*SPOILERS WARNING FROM BOOK #1 – #3*

The good

The new characters. If it’s wrong to love Manon Blackbeak, then I don’t wanna be right. Her and Asterin’s relationship is part of the reasons why I kept on reading even when I sometimes want to stop. It’s rare for an author to successfully introduced new characters that could be accepted by the fans, but I think Sarah J Maas managed to do just that. Fans already liking Rowan from the previous book will love him even more in here. I don’t really care about him, but many do ship him with Aelin so that’s a success in my book. Manon, Aedion, and the fabulous Lysandra are other major new characters introduced in book #3 (and #4) and their story continued here.

The writing. The book in this series got thicker and thicker. Queen of Shadows is about 650 pages long, significantly longer than the first Throne of Glass that has around 400 pages. The number of pages is not the only thing that has improved. Her writing is also getting better and better. If you need convincing, go ahead and re-read a few chapters from the first book.

The not so good

The old characters. Why oh why Sarah? She made Chaol almost unrecognizable in this book. This was Captain Westfall, the one who loved Celaena so deeply in Crown of Midnight? That was how he’s going to welcome her back? Beloved Dorian is barely in the book thanks to the thing happened at the end of Heir of Fire, which is to be expected, but can be frustrating to fans.

Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. This book made it seems that simply disliking Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the rightful Queen of Terrasen, is a crime. I get that she’s beautiful and fierce and cunning and interesting, but how is it that every males in the series want to be with her and all the females want to be her BFFs?

Final Words

I had such high hopes on this book, but left sort of disappointed. It was tad a bit too slow and the characters from the first book have changed so much and/or shoved aside. On a positive note, Sarah introduced new interesting characters and her writing is even better with each book. Four books down, two to go!

Final Score

3 stars (out of 5 stars)

Continue reading “REVIEW: Queen of Shadows”