Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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

Published: April 1st, 2014 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers Genre: young adult, LGBTQIA, realistic fiction Source/Format: paperback; 359 pages Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.30
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Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.
But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side. —goodreads

I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.

This review has been a long time coming, it’s actually been sitting in my drafts for some time till I actually had time to form full sentences about this book. Going into this read I didn’t know anything about it and I also didn’t read a blurb or the back of the book once I started reading it. This was actually a Bloggers’ Book Club pick from a while ago that I took my time catching up on. If it wasn’t for the lovely bloggers of this goodreads group, I probably would never have picked up this book. Not because of what it’s about, mostly because I hadn’t even heard of it. I live under a rock sometimes. Like all the time.

I didn’t LOVE this book, but I also didn’t HATE this book. I wasn’t as captivated by Saenz’s writing style as I’ve noticed a lot of people were. The dialogue didn’t flow as well as I wanted it to, but again, it was horrible. I wasn’t slamming the book on my desk repeatedly and shouting to the high heavens, but I was merely shrugging at certain scenes.

Ari or Aristotle, I won’t lie, his name made me roll my eyes a little bit because, man, sometimes parents really suck at naming their children (family name or not). But! Ari wasn’t my favorite protagonist ever. I spent the entire book wanting to shake or slap him for being an idiot or for just annoying me to no end. Everything about his obsession with his older brother was really a big let down for me. This was probably because once we finally find out the truth about his brother it was something I was expecting, but it was also over and accepted faster than I would have like I think?

To be honest, Dante was the reason I liked this book. I really dug Dante and his constant pestering of Ari. He is definitely best friend material for me. I did sort of think Dante’s move was unnecessary, but I think this was mostly because I spent the entire book wanting to force Ari to stop being such an emo kid about everything and stop being such an asshole to Dante all the time. He really annoyed me okay?

ALL OF THIS BEING SAID, I did enjoy the book, but most of my enjoyment came towards the end when everything finally comes together in a nice little bow and Ari pulls his head out of his ass. There were some great sentimental moments and sometimes Ari made me laugh during the moments when I wasn’t rolling my eyes at him. I did really appreciate how untraditional Ari was for a LGBTQ protagonist. Though, I wish his realization of his true feelings has been as open as say his need to know more about his brother.

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