Wren Reviews: ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Genre: YA fiction, coming-of-age, Romance, Realistic, LGBT
Premise:
(Goodreads)
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.
Plot: For me, the plot was interesting. Just barely, though. I felt like there were very dull times.
Aristotle and Dante meet over the summer. They bond over random things like Dante not wearing shoes and their ‘nice guy’ personalities. They end up becoming good friends by the summer’s end. But. Dante and Ari are in an accident. Ari gets broken legs and a broken arm. Dante only gets a broken arm. Dante sadly has to leave. He leaves for Chicago. There, Dante starts to drink. And smoke. And kiss girls. There, he realizes he’s gay. Ari gains a dog named Legs. Ari is miserable, wallowing in pity. He wonders about Bernardo his incarcerated older brother. When Dante comes back, Ari has sunk into a dark place.
Dante ends up getting a job, mirroring Ari at the his flipping burners job. Dante works at a pharmacy. Dante ends up kissing a guy. And gets beat-up because of it. Ari beats-up one of the people who hit Dante. And Ari’s parents finally tell Ari about his older brother. And Ari is led to the conclusion that he loves Dante.
Dante and Ari meet after Dante is healed enough to go home. And the story finishes with them kissing.
Character Development:
Aristotle. I like Ari. I can relate to him. He’s fire. Dante’s water or ice. Ari is someone who is broken. Confused. Lost. He acts like he can just fight his way through things. But he can’t. I can picture Ari as this dark-skimmed Mexican kid who has a bit of muscle but a scary face. I feel like he is the only reason I like this book. Really. I love his character. He has so much in him. He can do so much. I wanted him to end up as a writer. It would be great if that happened. I truly love how he changes. While I’m not a fan of him ending up with Dante, not because that’s a gay relationship, I think he suits Dante. He’s so brave. He’s so brave and crazy stupid. A lethal combination. But. I still like Ari.
Dante. Gah. Goody-goody characters. I don’t like him. At all. He seems to perfect. I’m happy that he ended up otherwise. Drinking. Gay. Smoking. I like that. He seems to fake at first. The perfect best friend compared to the broken narrator. Dante is great in changing. He isn’t who he was in the beginning. I like that. The change makes him human.
Problems: There are a few problems. I feel like this book is quite good, though.
The romance seems…unrealistic. I don’t see why it’s there. This book is good without the romance. It’s a coming-of-age story not a romance one. I prefer it as the former than the later. I don’t see the spark. Where is it? Love at first sight? That isn’t possible. Love doesn’t work that way. It has to be based off of something.
Another problem is the boring pages between the summers. I feel like nothing happens. It’s a lot of useless pages. There seems like no reason to have these pages. I wish that the book just skipped to the next summer. When Dante came back at least.
Good points: I just adore Ari’s character. He’s deep and dark. He has depth to him. I relate to him. I feel for him. He’s human. He is one of the only reasons this isn’t a six. This character changes. He acts like someone different. He realizes so much. Information is spilled out to him. I love how he changes. I love his actions, his voice. He is a special character. A really special one.
The next good point is the backstory. There is so much behind this story. Bernardo. The Vietnam War. I know these aren’t happening during the book, but it is part of it. It happened before, but it affected the story to a surprising degree.
The characters are also quite amazing. I think they are real. They have depth. They have so many parts. They don’t have just one later. Even if it seems like it.
Score: 7/10
Recommended: If you like realistic fiction. If you like coming-of-age stories. If you like LGBT.
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