After giving both Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited a shot, I have safely come to two conclusions: 1. Becky Albertalli books are not for me and 2. I absolutely understand why people love them. Which is a weird feeling for me, because usually when I give a book two stars (such as the case here) I’m left scratching my head at what the appeal is. But here I absolutely understand it. Probably because the two points are directly correlated. In other news, here are my thoughts in one sentence: so relatable it became almost off putting, with a lot of characteristics that left me going “meh”. Most glaringly flat for me was protagonist Molly who is…
well, just not very noteworthy. I could 110% relate to a lot of her growing pains (and all those unrequited crushes were a page straight out of my real life), but that didn’t mean I wanted to go in circles with her for 300 pages. I swear 3 quarters of the story is dedicated to her restating the same issues in a different way, with the middle especially lagging at a snail’s pace. I’ve read enough contemporaries to know exactly how Molly’s journey to self acceptance was going to end, and I could have done without the filler. Maybe had I felt more of a connection to Molly, and identified with more of her personality, I wouldn’t have minded so much. The same goes for much of the supporting cast, with Molly’s relationship with her twin, Cassie, being especially lackluster. I love books that depict realistic and meaningful sister bonds, but whenever Albertelli brought the two together I always felt like it was really to underline the romances. Which, no offense to love interest Reid, really didn’t work for me. Albertelli definitely has an affinity for nerd culture (which I do not), so a lot of his quirks and humor we’re more annoying than anything else. But with that being said, let me also just clarify that Unrequited is so true to the 2017 high school experience. People my age will probably see a big part of themselves in Molly and Cassie and Reid. Which is a great thing, however I sort of hated the book for it.
Honestly, the best way for me to describe it is the feeling I had been robbed of a reading experience. Which is sort of a bizarre thing to say. But for a person whose favorite part of reading is learning about new worlds, people, and ways of thinking, I mostly felt like I was exiting “real life” simply to live it for another person. Not to mention the conclusions Molly comes to, which are sort of a quasi-version of “my life doesn’t have worth until a guy’s in it”. Problematic in my opinion, but obviously only my interpretation of what Molly learned. All of these are very much “me” problems, and why I disliked it so much is why others love it. The quirky humor and dialogue of Simon is still very present here (as are a couple great cameos and easter eggs), so for anyone who loved Albertelli debut I would consider this a must read.
In short, take everything I just said with a grain of salt. However if you felt the exact same way I did while reading this one (and Simon for that matter, I’ve realized) please, please, please let me know in the comments!
-Keep Calm and Read On