Saturday, March 16, 2013

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Book Review

Rawr Reader,

    I got this book in the mail and jumped for joy! Can I just talk a little about the cover? It's beautiful~~ This story by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is unlike any other I've read which honestly is good refresher. It's good to take a step away from the genres we enjoy the most. Here is the synopsis provided by 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.

   I was browsing peoples reading blogs and found one that highly recommended this book. So I went on Goodreads and the rest is history. :)

(safe for those who haven't read the book yet)
    This is a coming-of-age story about two fifteen year olds named Aristotle, aka Ari, and Dante, who unable to find friends in others, find them with each other. It's summer and there's only so much two teen boys can do who can't drive or watch TV, but they instead begin to learn more about each other, and difficult at first, in the long run more about themselves.
    I was surprised how this story ended up being for me. I was perhaps expecting something totally different, but it turned out to have a good message and a nice story. But that was about it, it was nice. The author's style of writing which has many praises on Goodreads and on its cover jacket, didn't win me over. It was so simplistic, this was probably aimed for middle schoolers-- though it's claimed for young adults. It took me about 200 pages to get used to his writing style, which made it hard to read. Also what made it difficult was the story was very slow-paced. Anyone expecting two teens to be doing great daring actions and being completely rebellious will be disappointed. So I wouldn't recommend it for anyone wanting to read a thriller. Maybe if it did I would have liked it a little more...
   This wasn't a hard read, not at all. (Actually I found two errors but I digress.) And most of the chapters are really short. I'd say five chapters were shorter than the preceding paragraph^. 
   As for the characters, they weren't believable to me. They're supposedly fifteen years old when they first meet, but they're vocabulary to me suggests otherwise. I would believe eleven or twelve, but not fifteen. By the end of the book they're little bit older, but I didn't find their vocab developing with them. However, for the character themselves, yes they did develop. Both of them. And their families. I have to say I like the parents probably more than Aristotle and Dante. I praise Mr. Sáenz for building the supporting characters very well. 
   In fact, I argue that if this story was about two girls instead of two boys, critics would be harsher or this story wouldn't have been published at all. Continuously throughout the story, Ari is complaining and constantly judging himself, almost to the point at hating himself for being different, and if this was a girl, any reader would probably shut the book in contempt. Honestly I believed his character; instead of just telling me he hated himself, he really showed it in his actions as well as his thoughts. I give several points to Mr. Sáenz. However, I think that since this is a young man, and since boys tend to be harder to open up, it was more likable. Which was one of my reasons for liking this book. There aren't many young adult books that are from a male's perspective, and I found it probably had more of an impact because of that. If it was a girl, I probably be rolling my eyes the entire novel. 
    Since this book is a coming-of-age story, I found myself to be more lenient on the scenes Sáenz chose to include. If this was a thriller or part of a series, I tend to be harsher on chapters and why authors choose them and structure them. But since this is about real "fictional" life, even the simplest, almost trivial seeming things are important to how a person grows. And the kindness showed itself more because of the more simplistic events. 
   My favorite chapter is probably the final one (and no not because it was ending ;) ). I won't say why, but the book finally proved itself to be "good" instead of "eh".  

I give this book 3/5 stars. I liked its uniqueness, however I wasn't blown away. I simply liked it. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a slower-paced story.

Authors's Quote:
“I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone's hand.” 
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

If You'd Like to Check Out My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

River Song's Spoilers: 
(unsafe for those who haven't read his book yet, so don't read this section)
    I began to get traces that Dante was gay around the time of Ari's accident. And I knew for sure when he offered to give him a bath. I didn't even connect the crying a lot to anything, I just thought he was just an emotional kid. I hope that doesn't sound like I'm stereotyping since that's not what I mean it sound, I just found it to be part of his character. Maybe since I can't really imagine a guy, let alone a teen guy crying. I actually began to get annoyed that Dante cried a lot. I felt a little like Ari, it was awkward. And I'm horrible in normal situations so I didn't even want to imagine those moments. 
   I tried to think if Mr. Sáenz decided to keep Ari straight with Dante remaining homosexual, would that have strengthened their friendship or have the same impact that it did with them both being homosexual? I honestly can't tell if I would have liked it more that way or if it would have left me with the same feelings I have now. I'm so in between with this book. 
   One argument is how come Dante's parents didn't guess he was homosexual? I mean, I would have thought that if my kid wasn't like other boys his age. I haven't lived in a Hispanic society but I've traveled to some many times and I don't think fifteen year old boys are that-- what's an appropriate word-- innocent.
    The final chapter like I said was my favorite because Ari finally discovered himself. Though I didn't like that his parents had to tell him, since it probably would have said more about himself if he had discovered it himself, like Dante. But I think the fact that both parents of Ari and Dante were so affectionate for their sons even when the boys were scared what they'd think, really strengthened relationships everywhere.  

Until Next Time, 
Nicole Ciel

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