Hey Scribblers, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted anything. Sorry about that. I got hit by the flu that is going around and between dragging my butt to work and trying to get better I didn’t have the time or the energy.
And of course I pick Tax week (well if you’re in the US) to return. Maybe, I should have stayed away a few more days? Ah well.
Just a quick announcement before we dive in. This week I will be a guest on WROTE Podcast (check them out here), we are going to talk about marketing a LGBTQ book when it’s not romance or erotica, reminding people that gay is cross-cultural, gender, and economics, and I’ll share some of my own journey as a writer. It comes out this Friday. I will keep you posted.
Now let’s jump into this week’s topic. One of the things I did manage to do while I was under the weather was read the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I also went to see the movie Love Simon before it leaves theaters. It was nice to read the book first then see the movie and see what was changed.
Below is my review of the book and after that I’ll talk about the movie.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The book is an LGBTQ Young Adults story. It’s about Simon a ‘straight’ teen who is struggling with coming out and facing his gayness. Simon is surrounded by an amazing family, school, and friends. His struggle is more internal than external. The book starts with Simon being blackmailed by another student, Martin, who read and took photos of Simon’s email exchange with another gay student only known as Blue. The story focuses on how Simon deals with the blackmail while trying to navigate his own emotions and his developing online relationship with Blue.
This was a well written story. It flowed nicely and was a quick read. However, in my opinion, there were many ignored opportunities in the story and I found it missing the mark in many places (his relationship with his family, his standing in school, his relationship with his friends, and even his relationship with his teachers). When the book ended I was left with neither a positive feel for the book nor a negative feel for the book. Maybe, I’m jaded. I don’t know, but what I do know is, this book reflected nothing of what life is like. There was an opportunity here for the writer to dive in deeper to the issues of coming out, what it means to Simon and Blue and what it means to their families, but we got none of that (in a way that is nice, but still not realistic). Perhaps, this lack of realism is what people want when it comes to the LGBTQ community and its youth. I’m not sure. Still, considering how much everyone loves this book I’m probably in the minority with my thoughts.
Basically, this story reads to me like an old ABC After School Special. Where everything is perfect and by the end the world is changed but life is still great for the characters and everyone could have a nice hug afterwards.
I wanted to fall in love with the characters and I wanted to feel for them, but they all lived in this ideal world were even the drama that was created fell flat for me. I had to ask myself what kind of life did the author live? Did she even know any gay teens, gay men, or gay women? Not even the Blackmailer was very nasty. Did she really live in this wonderful world where everyone reacted the way they should and no one was trying to be mean or hurtful?
Because I want to live there too.
Regarding the main character Simon. Ugh, here we go again. Simon is this perfect jock type (even though he’s not a jock) who doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer through the underbelly of High School. His friends all adore him as does his family. I loved seeing a well adjusted gay teen character, but he like the rest of this world that Becky Albertalli created was unbelievable. Honestly, I swear, I didn’t want an emo character filled with self-loathing who was being tortured, but it would have been nice to see him based in a little more reality. Ah well.
Overall, I couldn’t believe in the characters or the story. It was just too impeccable for me and nothing about it struck home. All this said. I didn’t hate the book I gave it:
Now, let’s talk about the movie Love Simon. The writers of the movie took this lack luster book and amped up the drama and tension. Simon was still this perfect character with the perfect family but when it came to his suffering and drama (even the Blackmail) the reactions seemed so much more real to me. The characters were kind of what I pictured them to be and the seemly perfect world they all lived in was somehow I little more believable. I enjoyed the character interactions and I even enjoyed how the characters reacted to all the events that unfolded in the story. The movie, to my surprise, felt more real and honest than the book. I even enjoyed the ending of the movie more than the book and that really surprised me.
In this rare case, the movie was far better than the book.
With all this said. I want to add, that my husband both loved the book and the movie. He didn’t understand why I was just meh on the book. So, even in my own home I’m on the outside. I will say this for both the book and the movie I’m happy to see that both did so well and became popular, making a big splash in the main stream media. That says a lot. It is something that we should all celebrate.
I would love to hear what you all think of the book and the movie. Leave your comments below and tell me how far off I am. I don’t mind, I’ve been on the outside a lot when it comes to movies and books.
Until next week have a great week.