This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages, simply because everyone seems to rave about it. I wanted to see if it lived up to the hype, and if it would become one of my own favourites – it seems to be that way for lots of other people, anyway. Let’s see what I thought about it!
Spoiler Free Review
Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2012
(from GR): Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
There are lots of things to love about this book, there truly is. In some ways it reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, especially in it’s style of writing. It’s a story about a boy who is angry and sad, and who can’t figure out how to deal with his emotions. It’s about his friend who is the complete opposite of him, in ways that start to help Ari see who he really is, and how he can become a better version of himself. At it’s core, it’s about identity and family and love.
The thing I enjoyed most about this book was it’s characters, and how fleshed out and real they seemed. There was no falseness to them – the adults showed fear and emotion and love, and the teenage boys were… teenage boys: trying to figure out who they are and how they are to act. I felt like I could walk into that household and see them as real people. That’s all I ever want from characters.
There isn’t too much plot in this novel. That might not be want some people want from the story, but it’s more about growing and lasting relationships, and the struggle that is figuring out your identity when you are young. There are some dramatic parts. They are slower parts. But all in all, it comes together as a lovely story showing the triumph and struggle of young men.
We can’t forget what this story is also doing (and why it has been given so much praise) – this story is very diverse, and in a very real way. This story has a gay romance, and Saenz understands how to portray this showing how unsure someone can be about their sexuality, and how they can be accepted. It deals with ethnicity, and war, and mental health. It’s proving that diverse topics are needed in literature, and especially in the YA genre.
So, no. This book isn’t action packed. And no, it’s not a thriller. It’s a story about people and their lives, and there’s something really lovely about that.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars!
Definitely a recommended read. Even if you do normally read something more plot orientated, I’d recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and giving this one a try. You’ll not regret it – you’ll simply feel and understand.