Thursday, May 9, 2013

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Review

“I wanted to tell them that I'd never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren't meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever. And that somehow it felt like it was Dante who had saved my life and not the other way around. I wanted to tell them that he was the first human being aside from my mother who had ever made me want to talk about the things that scared me. I wanted to tell them so many things and yet I didn't have the words. So I just stupidly repeated myself. "Dante's my friend.” 
When I first went into Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I was hesitant. I ended up being very pleasantly surprised.

It's the late 80's. Aristotle's brother is in prison, for reasons he doesn't know. He finds himself either angry or wallowing most of the time for reasons he doesn't feel like talking about. Enter Dante, his first real friend. Together, the boys brave dangerous accidents, misadventures with girls, first jobs, and discovering the answers to secrets that have haunted them for their entire lives.

It sounds like a very simple premise, but when you're actually reading it, it feels much more complicated. Saenz's prose has way of captivating you during even the most mundane moments of these character's lives.

And oh boy, these characters. They were so sad sometimes, and they were so realistic. I ached for Dante and Aristotle, and even their parents. Especially Ari's dad, whose live was haunted more than Ari's.

There's not a lot you can really say about a book like this. It holds a certain magic and you don't really want to spoil it for anyone, you know? So I'll leave you with this: you should read this book.

Plot: A bit slow at times, but it's mainly driven by the...
Characters: Ha! See what I did there! Anyway the characters were good.
Writing: Gorgeous.
Ending: At first I thought it was a cop-out, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. So yes, great ending.
Content: Drugs, drinking, some swearing, and mentions of sex.
A wonderful novel worthy of all the praise it's been getting. A much read for fans of Perks of Being a Wallflower, and other melancholy realistic YA.



  1. I was in a bookstore this weekend and almost bought this one. I decided I didn't need to buy it, but now I kind of wish I did. It sounds like a beautiful novel.

  2. I LOVE the cover! And I'll definitely be on the look out for this one.


Your comments feed the greedy comment-addicted blogger inside of me. Thanks for keeping me going.