Wednesday, May 6, 2015

[Review] Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
YA Contemporary Romance
Published: February 2012 (Simon & Schuster)
Format: Ebook
Pages: 368
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 of 5
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.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. Like, for sure.

To start off, I need to get it out in the open that I seriously loved the way this book was written. The dialogue took over a lot of the characters interactions, leaving some room for personal interpretation during scenes. I can understand how this could be unlikable to some, but my personal preferences make it a good point.

The characters: Ari is a very fleshed out character. In some ways he reminds me of Holden from Catcher in the Rye. (please don't hate me) His uncertainty is powerful to read, the changing ways he views his parents, and the way he obsesses over certain things. Dante, on the other hand, is a ball of energy. Always the one that branches out and explores. At first I thought that his character was more 2D than Ari's, but after I rethought it I realized that he had his own struggles. His discomfort at being what he is, he doesn't really accept himself. He is an emotional creature and I can empathize with this.

I love that the characters actually have a relationship with their parental figures. In too many books, the parents are skipped over and the importance of the internal functions between parent and child are lost. Not only that, but the parents all had their own personalities and pasts and problems. They felt real.

The plot: I understand that there isn't one, in a traditional sense. This I don't mind. In fact, I encourage it because I am that kind of person. I don't really read to get somewhere, I read to enjoy the characters. I want to feel them and their emotions. I could read a whole book dedicated to the details of someone's home so long as you can feel the attachment and stories.

The writing: Beautiful! Simple, but sometimes it would hit me hard. I loved that small hints would be included where Ari would feel something more towards Dante. Subtle, but necessary and not overly obvious. The lack of romance in general is pleasing to me. I mean, I love fluff and all, but it's so refreshing to feel the characters beyond just "I love this person." More raw emotion with proof of their uncertainty and wavering thoughts, that's what I want. And this book did it.

The downfalls:
• The cliche of the conflict. When Dante is beaten up for kissing a boy. I understand, I really do. But it also feels like a cop out and I feel cheated.
• I felt that Ari accepted very quickly that he is in love with Dante after his parents told him that. I mean, yes it was obvious that he was, but I also thought he would have a harder time taking that in. It was all this build up to it and maybe I would have preferred not to have a definite love relationship. Either that or show more of his confusion towards his feelings for Dante. I don't know, maybe I'm asking for too much.

Overall: I really enjoyed this book. A hard 4 on the scale. This coming to terms sort of thing is something I really enjoy, a delving into the life of the character. It's a whimsical sort of thing and one that I enjoy immensely. It was a quick read and one I'd suggest to most people.

Final Rating: 4 of 5

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