The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli | Book Review [Spoiler Free]

This is spoiler free HOWEVER there is a spoiler right at the end (which is indicated).

I have to admit, this one slipped under my radar for far too long. Funnily enough, I’ve seen the cover for the Upside of Unrequited everywhere but I never knew, until recently, that it was written by Becky Albertalli or that it was a part of the Simon universe. Not that the latter matters too much although I will say that if you are interested in reading Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda, I recommend reading that before this one because there will be minor spoilers in the Upside of Unrequited that could ruin your experience of reading Simon.

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Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertali | Book Review [Spoiler Free]

NOTE: This is spoiler free but there will be spoilers for Simon VS the Homosapiens Agena.

There’s a lot of pressure when you have high expectations for a book and you’re 90% sure that it’s going to be good. A pressure because a part of you knows you shouldn’t have such high expectations, no matter what the book is, but the other part of you simply can’t help it. That was the case for me with Leah on the Offbeat.

Earlier this year I re-read Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda which is a favourite of mine and also the prequel to this book. Reading Leah on the Offbeat wasn’t something I planned because I didn’t own a copy at the time of finishing my re-read of Simon, however, while I was on holiday at the end of June I walked into a bookstore and right there on the shelf was one copy of Leah on the Offbeat. One copy? Of course, I had to buy it. It felt like a sign.

It was just that easy to get through as Simon, partly because I knew these characters (to some extent) but also because the structure and pacing of Leah on the Beat is really well done. There’s such an obvious push forward that nothing seems to drag but it never feels like the story is being rushed. Every time we move from one part of the story to another, it feels natural. There was never a point where I questioned why something was happening or how we got to that moment.

Honestly, if you’ve read Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda and you loved Becky Albertali’s writing, then you’ll love this. It’s set in the same world (a little over a year after the events of Simon) and it does a great job of expanding that world while also keeping this story as its own thing. Now, you don’t necessarily have to read Simon to read this but it will spoil a lot of things for you that might ruin your read through of Simon if you decide to get it to later. (That’s why there’s a spoiler warning at the start of this review!)

I loved all the little moments about the other characters that continued on from the previous book. It was great to see Simon and Bram’s relationships and how that’s developed since we last saw them but it was even better because it didn’t take over and was simply a background thing. It was also nice to see a lot of Bram by himself because we didn’t really get that in Simon (we saw him as Blue in the emails and such but we never got to see Bram quite like we see him in Leah on the Offbeat). There are many other characters that we see and mentions of past events that make this book feel nostalgic but as I said before, none of it takes away from the fact that this story is about Leah and is its own thing.

Leah Burke was a character I immediately fell in love with in Simon. I wanted to know more about her straight away and this book certainly delivered. She’s everything she was in Simon and more! Leah is so unapologetically herself and it’s awe-inspiring. For the most part, Leah knows who she is and she isn’t afraid to be that person. It was so great to read about a character who might not want to tell everyone everything, but she’s content with at least admitting who she is to herself.

Leah on the Offbeat made me smile, laugh, even get a little teary-eyed on occasion, but for the most part, it was just a genuine pleasure to read. I will always be thankful for character’s like Leah and I can’t wait for more writing from Becky Albertalli.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / 5

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Book Review [Spoiler Free]

This is the second time I’ve read this book and I loved it, even more, this time around.

For those of you who don’t know Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda follows sixteen-year-old Simon who is gay but hasn’t come out yet. The only person who knows is Blue, a boy from school, who Simon has been emailing although neither boy knows the other’s real identity. However, Simon’s emails fall into the hands of another student, Martin, who blackmails him into being his wingman otherwise Simon’s sexual identity will be revealed to the world.

Sounds kind of heavy, right? It is, in some ways, but it’s also very light and happy in places too. This entire book is funny, adorable, and breathtakingly emotional. There were times where I wanted to laugh and times I wanted to cry (sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad reasons). Becky Albertalli does such a fantastic job of balancing the upsides with the downsides. Every the upsetting scenes in the story feel necessary and are incredibly well done. And the funny moments? They’re genuinely good and are perfectly placed throughout the book.

Simon has such an interesting plot with great pacing and structure. It’s one of those stories that has you hooked from start to finish, and you’re thrown right into the action almost immediately.  By the time you reach the end, you feel satisfied, especially considering everything closes up so neatly and pretty perfectly. There’s plenty of room to see more of these characters in the future but it doesn’t leave you with a ton of unanswered questions that demand a sequel (although technically there are two sequels, they’re just not about Simon although he does make appearances).

Every character is fun to read about and almost all of them are lovable (there are the obvious exceptions). Each of them, even the minor characters, feel fleshed out and unique. Simon is by far one of my favourite characters of all time. He’s relatable in a lot of ways, very lovable, and is perfectly flawed. It’s impossible not to root for Simon and care about him as we go through the story. It’s so great that when he messes up, it’s not brushed over, but actually addressed which makes him feel very real.

I loved reading about all of the characters in Simon, even the ones I didn’t like very much. The writing and the plot made that possible. There’s something so very special about Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda and I can confidentially say that I will love this book more and more each time I read it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ /5

I have reviewed Becky Albertalli’s other two books that are set in the same universe and both take place after Simon, those are Leah on the Offbeat and the Upside of Unrequited.