Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:
Book Cover | Movie Poster
Book: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2015) | Movie: Love, Simon (2018)
Which did I read/see first? BOOK
SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Standalone 2017
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, GLBT, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook
I was a little late to the Simon train when I listened to the audiobook last year but I quickly became a fan. Honestly, my full review is just me gushing about how I loved the characters and the story and the romance.
You can read my full review here but the gist is that I loved how real this story was. It’s got great messages about love, life and friendship. It made me laugh, I cried, I swooned. I felt everything and that’s what a good story should do.
I found a new favourite! Absolute perfection.
Read if You Like: humour, coming of age, GLBT
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
Were My Expectations Met?
My personal hype was insane for this and seeing everyone on Twitter praise it really amplified that.
So was I satisfied? Yes and no. There were certain things I really liked (like the cast) and how they kept the overall spirit of the book intact despite some major changes to the plot. But I didn’t like all of the changes and that kept me from loving the movie.
For me, the biggest thing was the romance between Blue and Simon. In the movie it didn’t seem to be a huge focus–and I get why. This movie is more about Simon coming out and the way it happens and how he deals with it all. That’s why I say this movie captured the spirit of the book because this is obviously the biggest aspect of the story. And having a story like this brought to the mainstream is so, so important and I think they did an amazing job bringing this story to life.
And I don’t want to take away from that in any respect because this movie
will has change lives.
They capture the love and acceptance and the normalcy of the entire situation. It’s a story we all need in our lives..
But the book fan in me felt like some of the romantic charm was lost due to the time constraints and the slight shift in plot focus. I think the easiest way to say it is that I had a hard time believing that Simon was in love with Blue as a person as opposed to what Blue represented (ie someone who understood his personal struggles). We don’t see a lot of the interaction between Simon and Blue like we do in the book–mainly just email highlights in the movie. I missed seeing that deeper interaction between them because that’s what I loved in the book. I’m one of those people who likes the romance spelled out for them and with detail. So I just needed a little more than the 10 emails they share. Maybe it was because I knew who Blue was all along so I knew what to expect and where to look? I’m not sure but there was a slight disconnect for me.
How Close is it to the Book?
I really only remember bits and pieces of the book since it has been over a year but my friend who saw it with me just finished the novel a few days before we saw the movie so I got her to remind me. Of course they have basic changes like Simon’s family structure and the like. But they also had some pretty big changes to the plot as well.
That’s why I say this movie keeps to the spirit of the book. The drama is slightly amplified for the big screen and I found that had its pros and cons. Pros because it helps reaffirm to the audience that your sexual preference doesn’t change who you are as a person. It’s your typical teen movie only it stars a lead you don’t often see in the role. And I love how they make it normal–because it is normal! As Simon says in the movie why are gay kids the only ones who “need to come out?”. Teens of all orientations deserve to fall in love for the first time and not be judged or feel like they have to hide who they are.
>>Fun Fact: This is “the first film ever released by a major studio to focus on a gay teenage romance”.
So I get why things are done the way they are in the grand scheme and I applaud them because in that respect, this movie is amazing.
But the cons were the removal of things that I found charming about the book in the first place. Simon’s relationship with his friends was a big one and in particular, their actions when he is outed. I really disliked the approach that was done in the movie because I felt like it took away from the positivity of the story.
I get a little ranty in the spoilers below so I recommend only reading them if you’ve watched the movie:
1) While I like that Simon stood up for himself in the cafeteria (movie), I liked that in the book it was others standing up for him. It reminds the audience that you shouldn’t just sit by and watch awful things happen to another person.
2) It irked me to NO end how upset Simon’s friends were over his actions to get Martin and Abby together. Did they just forget that their friend was just blackmailed and outed against his will? Did they not think that maybe he needed his friends in this crucial time when he is struggling with his identity and needs support? I just thought their ostracizing of him (even if he was in the wrong with his actions) was plain mean. They have every right to be upset but be the bigger person and be there for your friend. (Though perhaps this was an effort to normalize the situation? To emphasize the fact that is wasn’t a big deal to them that Simon was gay and that he should have felt safe to talk to them before he took it too far. I’m not sure if that was the intention but it really bothered me that they distanced themselves because they never really state that. Well, except Leah but Simon tells her why he told Abby first.)
3) I hated how the uniting of Simon and Blue was this big spectacle for the entire school. I get it–it’s part of their “great love story” and reaffirms the fact that Simon is someone Blue feels is worth it to come out for; but I liked the reunion more in the book.
Did I Like the Cast?
YES! When Nick Robinson was cast as Simon I was very, very happy. He was great in Everything, Everything so I knew he would make a great Simon. And he definitely did. He was so charming and funny that it was easy to love him.
The rest of the cast is fabulous. They did a great job bringing this story to life. Josh Dummel totally made me cry 😛
While I understand how monumental this movie is in terms of mainstream media and LGBTQ representation, I enjoyed the book more. I preferred the slightly more grounded story and the slower development of the romance between Blue and Simon. As a viewer, I definitely enjoyed the movie and all that it means (seriously, the stories you read online about all the people who finally feel accepted after seeing this movie is AMAZING!) but as a fan of the book, I’m a little disappointed though still super happy to see these characters come to life.
Do you agree? Leave a comment below!
Synopsis for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (from Goodreads):
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.