Title: Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: YA contemporary
Status: Book 1 of Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe
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.
Wow this book was amazing. And it hit me with feels I couldn’t manage. Let’s start off with the sections because this might be a long one, seeing I have three pages of notes which makes up only two sections.*
P.S. my thoughts are pretty scattered, so bear with me. This is what happens when I have too many feels to sort through and procrastinate writing this review.
*My thoughts seem to be pouring out for this book.
Told completely in Ari’s point of view, the story spans over two summers when the boys are 14/15. Oh and this is set in the late 1980s, which I really liked.
The book is equal parts about Dante and Ari’s friendship, and Ari as an individual.
Honestly, that’s all I can say without spoiling anything, and also without breaking my head. Because I legit don’t know what to say*. Trust me, I’ve been staring at the screen for the past five minutes, and came up with only one line: I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. HELP.
*Someone tell me how I became a book reviewer in the first place
Ari is such a beautiful soul. Even though I couldn’t relate to him much, I had absolutely no problem seeing from his eyes. He worries about a hundred things, is constantly inside his own mind, acts to protect his loved ones without hesitation and IS JUST PERFECT.
Immediately after finishing the book, I lent it to a friend of mine. Later while discussing, she said something which made so much sense, she should be writing this review. Everything that we would have running in the back of our minds, Ari has in the front. He’s constantly thinking about his brother who is in jail. In fact, he thinks about him so much I couldn’t understand why. He’s also inside his head a lot, is “dark” and thinks about sad stuff.
On the other hand, Dante is light. I cannot think of a better way to describe him. He openly shows affection, looks at the positive side of things and is more open. He also really hates shoes, so much so that he makes up a game just so he could throw his shoes around.
But what I loved most about the characters was that both the sets of parents were VERY involved in the book. Supportive parents. We frequently saw them conversing with the kids, and they were IN THEIR LIVES which made me so happy, you have no idea. After reading the number of YA books where teens were running around with minimal parental presence, this is a godsend. And both the couples were still TOGETHER and in love.
Going into this book, I knew it had gay romance in it. But as I read, I became confused and thought I was wrong—it was just about friendship between two boys. And later, it turned out to be romance after all.
My point is that this book was so much beyond romance. It’s about the bond between two young boys, romantic or not. It wasn’t insta-love, which I’m really tired of. There was actual relationship growth and it makes me so happy, I could cry.
In the end, the book left me a MESS because I COULDN’T STOP BEING HIT BY FEELS. The last 50 or so pages were read with my hand resting on my heart because the feels were too much.
In short, I loved it.
I’ve only read one other book with gay romance in it and that was Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I also read that only a little while before this.
Therefore, I couldn’t help but compare them. While Simon was fluffy and gave me so many happy feels, Ari and Dante hit more deep. There was more character-centered plot here.
I absolutely love the way this book was written. I was captured right from the beginning, and I simply became Ari. Throughout the day I was reading this, his mood carried on in real life. It was very subtle, but I basically couldn’t let go of the book.
I also loved how there were these “sections”, each with a couple lines like a foreword. It set the vibe of the book more.
At times, I did wish that we could see from Dante’s POV as well. I would have really liked to know Dante’s thoughts. It’s the only thing which made me hold back a star in my rating. But if I look past that, I am a little glad we only saw from Ari because the whole book was only in one vibe. Dante and Ari are so different, alternating POVs would probably have been like whiplash.
The book simply held me and didn’t let go, and I LOVED IT. I had a book hangover for a couple days after this because I couldn’t move on. Definitely recommended to all YA lovers, and then some.