Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Book Review

I need to stop reading The Shining because… it’s a depressing book, so I decided to read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Let’s find out what I think about it with my Q & A style!

Why did you decide to read this book?

The title is catchy and interesting. The synopsis on GR sounds like your typical coming of age book, but since I needed something relaxing, I thought why not.

Is the book another predictable coming of age, then? What is it about?

Surprisingly, no. The book’s theme is about coming of age but with richer character and world-building. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is about a young boy named Ari, short for Aristotle, who struggles to find himself and learned about his world better after he meets Dante in a pool during the summer.

The names are interesting. Do you like the main character?

I do, I think Aristotle Mendoza is a well-written character. He spent the first half of the book being angry about everything, because, well he is a teenager. But, author Benjamin Alire Sáenz‘s captured his anxiety and angst perfectly. His confusion about himself and his family’s history are well explored. I also like that he is Hispanic, the culture reference and point of views are refreshing for a YA book.

What do you think about the romance?

I thought Benjamin Alire Sáenz is clever to downplayed the romance part. This is a LGBT theme book, sure, but it’s more than that. The main focus isn’t about Ari’s sexual confusion, it’s about growing up in general. I think it’s better to focus on Ari as a normal boy who happens to fall in love with another guy rather than Ari who is sexually confused. The romance between the two characters is subtle and not forced; a plus point in the romance category.

What about the supporting characters?

The supporting characters are Ari’s and Dante’s parents and this is interesting for me since most of the YA/coming of age books I have read placed the parents in the background; a parental shadow so to speak. Hence why I love the intimacy the readers will get while reading this book. Ari’s and Dante’s parents differ from one another, yet we see the love and support they have for their sons. My favourite is Ari’s mother, a high school teacher who Ari called a fascist (in playful kind of way).

What do you think about the author?

This is my first book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and judging from his short biography on GR, he knows his stuff. It’s clear to see the characters and plot has been planned for some time. There are two climax scenes which complement each other rather nicely. The pace of the book is another thing I like; it takes its time to build the characters and let them sink in.

What’s your favourite and least favourite scene in the book?

My favourite scene is when Dante first cried because of the bird. This is a rather unexpected twist for the character. I also like the ending with the truck in the desert. My least favourite scene is the dream part. I don’t hate it, I think it played well with the character, but I wish it could be dialed down just a bit.

Will you recommend Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe? And what’s your rating?

Aristotle and Dante reminds me of Perks of being a wallflower with less friends and more parents. It’s grounded and realistic fill with so much heart, if that’s what you are looking for then read it! My rating is 4.5/5.


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