[Book Review] Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Rating: 2.5/5

“I’d never really been very close to other people. I was pretty much a loner. I’d played basketball and baseball and done the Cub Scout thing, tried the Boy Scout thing – but I always kept my distance from the other boys. I never felt like I was a part of their world.”
The hype, oh the hype. You should never meet your idols; you should never read books with lots of hype (I say wistfully as I stare at A Storm of Swords). Don’t get me wrong, some books deserve the hype but this one just didn’t click with me.
I borrowed this novel from my friend last December with every intention of reading it as soon as I got home, this never happened. I decided to wait a few weeks to get into the right mindset, this was one of the most popular YA LGBT novels everywhere, everyone loves it. I needed to be ready. Skip ahead seven months and I finally pick it up.

Unfortunately, this book and I just didn’t connect. I enjoyed the book, it read quickly and I finished it in one sitting but overall I just didn’t love it. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a Printz Honor book scoring 5 star rating from everyone, so why didn’t I love it as much as everyone else?

“The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”
This book is about two boys: Aristotle and Dante. Aristotle (Ari is a tough guy who gets into fights every other day and doesn’t talk much). Dante is a quirky, fun optimistic boy who loves swimming and hates shoes. Naturally, the two of them form a beautiful friendship that turns into a messy and complicated relationship. Sounds amazing, right? I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the right mindset but from chapter one I knew that this wouldn’t be getting any higher than a 3 star rating, I mean it took me 80% of the way through for me to start enjoying it. That’s not good.
“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”
This book is written in Dante’s pov and he doesn’t talk much so naturally the inner workings of his mind are quite complex and everything he thinks is deep. Let me tell you something, teenagers are not deep. There was a lot of laughter and really too much repetition. It sounded like the author was trying too hard to make his characters different and unique, this made the book seem tedious and long.

“The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

Ari and Dante, while having nothing in common somehow manage to find a common ground and become friends – Dante talks a lot and Ari listens but says nothing – friendship? There’s an accident, a rather large move, drugs, alcohol and a lot of finding one’s self.

“How could I have ever been ashamed of loving Dante Quintana?”

Speaking of finding one’s self. Aristotle didn’t, he didn’t find himself in this novel because his parents sat him down and fucking told him. Ari spent his whole life living in a place where homosexuality wasn’t accepted and people got beat up because of it so naturally he was in denial about his being gay. I feel like there were other ways to go about this whole scene, Ari’s parents told him he was gay, he denied it and then he went and snogged Dante. Happy ending, everything is amazing. No. This pissed me off to no measure, the whole book was about Ari finding himself but he didn’t even do it.
A boring story, a rushed ending and annoying writing.
For all the reasons people though this book was tragic and beautiful I thought it was boring and tedious. I’m glad I read this but it didn’t really do anything for me.


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