[Book Review #52] Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

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.

Book Specifications:

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Format: Hardbound

Part of a Series: No. Standalone.

Release Date: February 21, 2012

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

No. of Pages: 368 pages

Price: 684.00Php

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, LGBTQIA, Contemporary, Romance, Queer, Fiction, Coming of Age

Book Review:

The Cover: Featuring a starry night and a peaceful desert to match, after having read this book, one would simply know and be in love with this cover. For those who’ve read this book, there’s an area in the “El Paso” desert where Ari loves spending his free time in, and he dubbed it as his favorite place. Seeing the cover is like seeing a part of Aristotle Mendoza. And I love it! (4.5 out of 5 stars)

The Story: I picked up this book, first, because I knew that it was about LGBT. Second, is that good friends of mine kept on recommending this to me, and after reading Scarlet, I jumped to this contemporary, and I loved every single page of it! It’s a coming of age novel of a troubled boy named Aristotle Mendoza who, after having met his best friend, Dante Quintana, started discovering truths about himself that he didn’t knew about before. Afterwards, he wanted to learn more about life, love, and the universe, thus the title. I loved this book and I can’t believe it took me until now to have read it.

Benjamin’s writing style is perfection! He writes in a way that’s as beautiful as life itself. He uses simple and basic words, and yet, there’s something about it that’s so poetic and lyrical. You wouldn’t have a problem visualizing El Paso and Ari’s world because Benjamin did a fantastic way of telling how magical El Paso is, especially for both Ari and Dante. Also, I don’t know if he wrote this book in a fast pacing, or I just loved his writing style so much I finished this book as fast as I did Confess. Ah, I just love it! Maybe I will read more from him.

Reading this book was like taking a break from the usual romantic contemporaries. You all know how much I love reading romance books which gives me “the feels”, but with Ari and Dante, I was given the break I deserved from such swoon worthy novels. Even though this is labeled also as a romance book, there wasn’t just too many romantic scenes which was great for me since it is more of a coming of age novel.

Aristotle and Dante will easily become two of your most favorite characters faster than I can say the book’s title. I am telling you. From the first few pages of the book, you could easily say that Aristotle, who’s perspective was told all through out the book, is just like any modern teenager. Misunderstood, and yet, he has a lot to say about the world. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. He was relatable and you WILL love him. And, Dante is a big sweetheart who has all one could wish for in an ideal man.

I hope everyone gets the chance to read this treasure! It’s so good, you guys will burst with feels! (5 out of 5 stars)

The Ending: One thing I loved about this book’s ending was that everything and everyone who were relevant were given proper closure. There’s a sense of fulfillment that comes with reading a novel with a successful ending, right? Anyway…

I loved how Benjamin gave everyone what they were rooting for in the end. Some might say that the ending was predictable, seeing how troubled and confused Aristotle was with his own feelings, but I did not feel it was predictable at all. I loved how this ending shocked me in more ways than one.

One negative comment I have, however (it’s really not that negative) is that I sure could’ve used a few more chapters or pages about Bernardo. Towards the ending of the book, there were some details spilled about him but I kinda wanted more. He seems like a very interesting guy.

But, I still loved this! I really can’t believe I just finished reading this now! I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!  (5 out of 5 stars)

The Verdict: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, without a doubt, is one of those books that you won’t get tired of reading one too many times! I loved it with a burning passion, and I can’t wait to read it again. Maybe when I don’t have tons of books on my tbr, I will read this again. Lol. (4.83 out of 5 stars)

Quotable Quotes:

“I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get–and never would get.”

“I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.”

“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”

“To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.”

“The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

“I had a feeling there was something wrong with me. I guess I was a mystery even to myself.”

“How could I have ever been ashamed of loving Dante Quintana?”

About The Author:

Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.

His first novel, Carry Me Like Water was a saga that brought together the Victorian novel and the Latin American tradition of magic realism and received much critical attention.

He continues to teach in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.


9 thoughts on “[Book Review #52] Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

    1. Yes, you’re totally right! The minimalistic approach on the dialogue is absolutely perfect! I loved every single page of this book (As if it wasn’t obvious with my review, haha!) But hey, I’m glad you’ve read it too, Kevin!

      Thanks for dropping by! 🙂


  1. Ooh wow! I’ve been seeing this book around in my library’s digital audiobook database, and contemplated getting it, but decided against it. But after reading your review, it sounds like an awesome read! I think when authors can convey a lot of emotion and beauty through simple prose, you know you’ve found a great author. So thank you for the wonderful review! I shall check this out sometime! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you, CW! I’m envious you have a library that sounds so wonderful that offers an audiobook database! We don’t have that here in the Philippines. But, anyway, you should totally read this gem! It’s a wonderful coming of age novel, and, who knows, you might discover a little something about yourself in between it’s pages.

      Thanks for dropping by, my dear! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhh, what a great review, JM! I’m not sure if I even have this on my TBR list on Goodreads but once my site is working again, I’ll definitely add it! This sounds like an AMAZING read and from what you wrote, I guess I would enjoy it as well. I’ll be sure to check it out! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have to add this to your TBR, Yvonne! As you may have already guessed, this book just became one of my top reads for 2015! And, when you finally decide on reading it, be sure to let me know, okay?

      Thanks for dropping by, sweetie! ♥


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