In the YA Diversity Book Club, we chat about the latest YA books that celebrate diversity. Our book club includes Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks, Kristan @ We Heart YA and Kristina @ Gone Pecan. Each month we’ll focus on one book with a book review (our discussion chat) and bonus features.
Our May book club pick is Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. This debut is about Simon, a boy who is coming to terms with his sexuality with the help of an online anonymous friend. The emails exchanges between Simon and Blue are the heart of the book and make you root for these two to take their relationship offline. But when their flirtatious messages get into the wrong hands the repercussions are more than Simon bargained for. Many thanks to Harper Collins/Balzer & Bray for providing us with review copies of this book!
About the book:
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Hardcover, 320 pages, Balzer & Bray, April 7.
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.
Simon Says: The Audiobook Agenda
The timing worked out with book club this month that Simon on sale as an audiobook during the time we were reading the book. Since I am an audiobook junkie I took the opportunity to switch off with reading and listening to SIMON. Today I’ll give you the lowdown on the listening experience and why you might consider “listening” to what Simon says.
If you have tried audiobooks in the past you know that the narrator makes or breaks the book. I had started reading SIMON when I picked up the audiobook, so I had an idea of Simon’s voice in my head. It was such a great surprise to hear how well narrator Michael Crouch brought the character to life. He sounds like the teenage boy that Simon is and brings a lot of personality to the story. Simon’s personality is kind of witty, snarky, and self-conscious and that comes through in Crouch’s performance. This is my first time listening to this narrator but I won’t hesitate to listen to him again.
One of the storytelling devices in SIMON is the email exchange between Simon and Blue. Normally I try to stay away from audiobooks that rely on the use of text or email messages because it gets tedious to hear the detailed to/from and date/time over and over. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker for this audiobook though. Michael Crouch’s reading pace and style makes this a nonissue, plus hearing the email information helps to reiterate who is speaking/writing.
There are several characters in the book and author Becky Albertalli makes them fully formed and meaningful. And the narrator makes each character distinct as well. I also really appreciated Crouch’s reading pace. Sometimes I have to speed up the narration to suit my taste but Crouch reads at a brisk pace that suits the story.
The audiobook highlights the engaging and heartwarming quality of the book and the swoon-worthy love story. If you’ve already read an loved SIMON I still recommend giving the book a “re-listen” to experience the book in a new way. Plus, if you’re listening to the audiobook your hands will be free (if you’re not driving) to munch on Oreos while you listen! (Read the book; you’ll understand)
Listen to a sample from chapter one:
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT ALL OF THE BOOK CLUB FEATURES:
- Kristina from Gone Pecan features an “Author Q&A with Becky Albertalli“
- Sandie from Teen Lit Rocks shares our “Book Club Discussion“
- Sarah and Kristan from We Heart YA talk about “Why We Love SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA“
Don’t miss June’s featured book: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee.