Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012) – Benjamin Alire Saenz: 5/5
I finished this book at 2am with silent tears streaming down my face. They were happy tears by the way. I’m not sure if I was more emotional that night than normal, but what I do know is that Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of the most touching novels I have ever read.
The novel follows the budding friendship of two boys, Ari and Dante. For reasons individual to each character they are very important to each other, and develop a wonderful bond. Now I must say that this is usually not the type of story I go for at all. Contemporary YA is not a genre I frequently encounter, mainly due to the general writing style of the literature and also because I read to escape the world; I don’t want to be constantly reminded that I’m living in it. When I bought this book it was largely, okay… entirely, due to the title; I was immediately intrigued. Couple that with a quick glance of the hugely positive Goodreads reviews and I was sold. I had no idea what this novel was about, to the point that I actually thought one of the characters was a female, and was pleasantly surprised by the direction the novel took instead.
Now, I don’t want to say that it was about sexuality, as so many others have. Saenz was saying so much more than that to me. I think what I loved the most about the novel was the exploration of the relationships that Ari and Dante had with their parents. I would say that Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is about people; their loves, relationships and their fears.
Initially the writing was not my cup of tea, I prefer a more descriptive style. However, it was absolutely perfect for this novel. I truly felt like Ari was a real, tangible person, and I was privy to his innermost thoughts, which made me feel even closer to the characters and what they were going through.
I will say that this novel may not be for anyone, though I would urge you to give it a chance. At first I thought that I really wouldn’t enjoy it and that it simply wasn’t for me; oh how I was wrong. I could not put it down and felt every emotion that Ari and Dante felt as though I knew them. It takes a special kind of author to enable you to form such a connection to the characters, especially when you have absolutely nothing in common with their lives.
Thank you for reading!