Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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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, 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.

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Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a YA book that I have been hearing a lot about the past few years. Last year there was a movie released based off of this bestseller, re-titled Love, Simon. I didn’t realize when I checked out the audiobook that I was reading a book about an LGBTQ character during PRIDE month, but that makes it an extremely timely review to post.

During the course of the book, I became extremely invested in the lives of these characters, including both Simon and his friends. I was constantly guessing as to who “Blue” was. There were a few times I rolled my eyes at some of the more teenager behaviour and drama, but the pace of the book is quick enough that the plot doesn’t become embroiled in high school.

The relationship between Simon and Blue unfolds over the course of half a year. It was sweet to watch friendship and then romance develop, based completely on personality and not looks, cliques, or popularity.

The audiobook is slightly less than 7 hours, awesome for getting through quickly. I was able to listen to the book in two days. The narrator’s voice is smooth and easy to listen to.

I plan to pick up the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat soon, and listening to it as well.

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xx

Broken Love Series by B.B. Reid

As promised, here is my review for the first and second books in the Broken Love Series by B.B. Reid. They are new adult novels that feature a strong, anti-hero male protagonist who really isn’t that nice of a guy, especially in the first book. Be warned that it is a “dark romance”, not as full of the fuzzies as most contemporary romances are.

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Blurb:

I don’t believe in fairy tales and Prince Charming.

I believe in fear.

He taught me how to be afraid.

We first met on a playground on a wonderful summer day. It was the first time he hurt me and it wouldn’t be the last. For ten years, he’s been my tormentor and I’ve been his forbidden. But then he went away, and yet I was still afraid.

Now he’s back and wants more than just my tears. You see…he thinks I sent him away so now he wants revenge…and he knows just how to get it.

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Blurb:

What happens when she’s had enough?

Lake Monroe has given in to her childhood tormentor too many times. She knows it, he knows it, and even their enemies know it. When he returned after being found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit—a crime he thought she set him up for, he returned darker than ever, demanding her body and her submission. To survive him, she knew she had to give in to fear once more or suffer the deadly consequences…

But Lake experienced what it was like to submit to the dark and demanding boy who invaded her dreams. Now she’ll experience what it’s like to fight him.

What happens when he wants more?

Keiran Masters has a past that is both shocking and dark. Once enslaved, he now has demons he can’t escape—demons that have followed him for ten years, demons he blames his beautiful obsession for. He promised to make her pay. He promised to make her break…

But after Keiran had conquered her body and tasted her submission, he found a new addiction instead—one he has no intention of giving up.

As secrets unfold,
Identities are revealed,
Danger closes in,
And they both discover what it really means to fear…

*** Please note, these books are new adult and contain rough elements such as harsh language, mild violence, strong sexual content, alpha male, antihero, blackmail, and dubious consent. These books, Fear Me in particular, contain sensitive themes many people aren’t able to swallow.

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What I liked about these books:

Keiran is one of the darkest protagonists that I have read in awhile, which was exactly what I was looking for when I picked up this book. It is difficult to balance a truly dark character and still have him be redeemable to some extent, because at the end of the day, the genre is still romance. He was downright evil at times and I found myself wondering why I was continuing to read the Fear You, half way through, because I thought there was no way Reid could soften my opinion of Keiran, but she did it.

Even though he is so dark and does awful things to Lake, he never read like an insufferable asshole to me. He didn’t become annoying, because he wasn’t being a prick just to be a prick, most of the time. Even before the reader learns the backstories and subtext in the second half of the novel, you have the sense that Keiran is that way for a reason … a very sinister reason.

I liked his counterpart as well, Lake, though not as much. I am a very dramatic person and I found it difficult to imagine her continuing to “just take it”, with everything Keiran was dishing out. There was some seriously dubious consent going on in multiple instances and I am waaaay too dramatic of a person to let that stand. If I had been in Lake’s shoes, I would have to taken (most likely drastic) action because I am the type of person who doesn’t care if she makes it worse, as long as she make it different, and takes back a little bit of control. She balances him though and perhaps that why is why have their happily ever after.

If she had been like be, it probably would have been a funeral instead.

I also liked that there was a lot of secondary characters who will be coming up and having their own books pretty soon. Keenan, Desh, Q and others… I like when there is interaction between more than just the romantic leads, something you have probably already picked up on if you regularly read my blogs.

What I wasn’t as fond of:

Q needed more page time. I actually forgot who he was completely and thought it was a new character introduction, because of how he seems to disappear for half the book, while the other main characters are still present.

I didn’t like that this story took place with the characters in high school, twelfth grade. The content was very adult and it is supposed to be a new adult novel. Based on the violence and the amount of power and connections Kieran has, I felt that it would have been better suited to characters a little older, perhaps twenty rather than eighteen. Two years extra in age may not be a lot of difference, but it would have been enough to make the story feel more authentic to me. Also, new adult generally applies to characters 18-26, but I do believe going to the youngest in that range was a mistake in this case. I’m glad that book three reportedly takes place several years later.

Another thing I didn’t love was how the Keenan’s chapter closed in the second novel. I can’t expand on that without spoilers, but I was not a happy camper. I don’t like when things like that happen to the male protagonist (even if it happened in a book where he is a secondary character). It’s too real, like when an author gives their heroine cancer. Romance is escapism reading, so that plot-line just didn’t jive for me.

I wish that there was more interaction between the secondary characters that didn’t depend on them fighting with each other. It became a little much, especially when those relationships will not be resolved until they get their own books. I would have rather seen them interact more with each other, even if it wasn’t with their better half since all the couples seem to be fighting at some point.

Finally, Lake had her lightbulb – I understand him – I completely forgive him moment just a little too easily in book 1. Even if she did forgive him that easily, I wanted her to have more trouble with it. That was rectified a bit in the second novel, but I would have liked to have seen her struggle with it more in the first.

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xx