Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Name: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Published: 2012

A book hasn’t left me this… shook up in a long time.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Hardcover) |  Politics and Prose Bookstore

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.

I’m still trying to figure out how I feel. For years, this book has been on my WTR list, then my shelf, and I kept putting it off to read what I was certain were worse books. Now, I’m not sure they were. Whilst this was pretty amazing, I had so high expectation that I’m left feeling kind of unsatisfied. Have you ever done that? This wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t even a book about romance. Although, it was a book about so many other things. Sáenz wrote beautiful characters, beautiful sentiments, but are they really things a sixteen year old would say?

This is me trying to work out my feelings.

“There was nothing but darkness and sheets of rain and the awe of our silence. My mom held my father’s hand. Storms always made me feel so small. Even though summers were mostly made of sun and heat, summers for me were about the storms that came and went. And left me feeling alone. Did all boys feel alone? The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

Aristotle and Dante Sequel: There Will Be Other Summers.

I was going to talk about the plot, but there wasn’t really one. There was and there wasn’t. No clear lead up to a final scene, but it worked for the style of the book – although I would have preferred a bit more character development from Ari.

It was sad. I’ll give it that. It made me feel down and kind of thoughtful, in the way only some things can. I was reminded of Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (although I have to admit I’ve only seen the film… *runs away*. I’ll get there eventually!) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe wasn’t dramatic, there was no big reveal or shocking conclusion. I liked the mellow tone of it.

“I knew a part of him would never be the same. They cracked more than his ribs”

– The (first of many) line that made me cry

Like I said before, some of the things Ari said felt a bit off for a teenager. It might have worked better in third person? I’m still figuring out my opinions on the characters (on a lot of it really.). I do know that most teens aren’t that open with their parents. I didn’t like how Ari only (eventually) realised his feeling through his dad literally having to spell it out for him. But apart from his total lack of embarrassment, Ari felt very relatable and real… even if his lack of social interaction got a little annoying. Although, that was pretty relatable too haha.

After some thorough googling, I found that there might be a sequel and got excited! But then kind of sad because all the comments were people raving about how ‘If it comes out in 2017, I’ll be so annoyed for the wait!’. I really hope There Will Be Other Summers (even the title: ahhhh) won’t just be postponed – although I suspect we’ll all be waiting for a while.

Any (and I mean any) information on the sequel will be excitedly accepted.

Finally, I read some reviews that hated on the writing, but I loved Sáenz’s poetic style. There were few long sentences, but it worked – often, the dialogue was simply just dialogue, without any ‘he said this’. It made it very engaging; I read in just a few sittings.

So yeah! This wasn’t my usual style of review post (far less puns) but this wasn’t a usual book.

I think I’ll be thinking about it for a while.

“Sometimes you do things and you do them not because you’re thinking but because you’re feeling. Because you’re feeling too much. And you can’t always control the things you do when you’re feeling too much.”

– Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Published by Hundreds&Thousands

I’m a teenager (and a Hufflepuff) from Manchester. I like oversized jumpers, music that isn't on the radio anymore and books. Pretty much any book I can get my hands on but my favourites are Young Adult, fantasy and science fiction. One day, I decided to share some of my opinions on some great - and not so great - books to people around the world. And here it is! I really enjoy it and I hope you do too. The aim is hundreds and thousands of book reviews (see what I did there?) but I’m not quite up to that. Yet.

22 thoughts on “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

  1. Great review!!
    I ended up DNFing this one because I just wasn’t enjoying it? Particularly because it was so sad like you mentioned. I just wasn’t in the mood for a super poetic and philosophical book so unfortunately it wasn’t for me.
    I’m so glad so many people love it though because the writing was really beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved your review of the book! But first things first: I only came to know about the sequel of Ari and Dante through YOUR post! Aaahh What even! Oh, and how are you so bold to admit not having yet read Call Me by Your Name?! (I am still not able to) :D. Haha, keep writing and keep reviewing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. amazing review! i loved the poetic writing style of benjamin alire saenz too. i can’t wait for the sequel because i need more of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ahhh, i loved the quotes that you picked! like you said, this is quite a sad book and it always puts me in an introspective mood, which is why i love it so much. i really don’t know what to expect from the sequel – i trust benjamin alire saenz a lot, but i still wonder if it would be necessary, considering that their story was wrapped up enough in this one. but i hope that if we get the sequel, that is a bit more light-hearted than this one and hopefully will cover other issues better!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fingers crossed for more happy haha, they deserve it! It was quite wrapped up though, and I don’t know if there is much more we could get out of the characters like developments etc. I would be interested to meet ari’s brother though?

      Liked by 1 person

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