Friday, August 21, 2015

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saénz.

Publish date- 2012.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A literary portrait of the growth in friendship, relationship and love between two boys; the lengths they will go for each other, the small joys and tragedies that make up their lives, the ways they come together each time they are together.


What I thought:
I was prepared for Aristotle and Dante. I can cover on one hand the amount of negative reviews I've read of it, and that's only by raising a single finger. I can count on at least three, all fingerslifted, how many positive.
I anticipated the romance, the gorgeous, the intricate, the stunning and outstanding.
And I got it.

It touched on some quite dark themes and I didn't expect that; I didn't anticipate the fact the romance would only physically blossom less than a hundred pages before the end (even if we anticipate it from the beginning and Ari is uncomprehendingly comprehending it much earlier) and I have to say that that did put me off a little, having to wait for the will they won't they and beginning to actually wonder which it might be, despite all I had heard. But at the same moment, it was important to the story that these two the characters have to go about things slowly. This is a book of discovery and self acceptance and fear and home, and the romance between two boys that I imagined would be the sole focus was not. The focus is on friendship and family and understanding your life and others.

So I went into Ari and Dante with a lot of expectations. It meant I don't know whether I feel like I ever stopped expecting things to be a certain way- see the family support element: whilst reading I didn't really think it was amazing, it was just two families who were there for and cared about their children. Afterwards I appreciated it more. I wish that kind of presence and support that felt so natural wasn't so uncommon in YA. That it wasn't necessarily amazing because it was rare.

I don't know how much I personally liked Ar or Dante (I've an immediate preference for D but I think I like A more), but that isn't much of an issue here. They do things that are stupid in my eyes, or reckless, just as they did things that were good and true. It makes them quite genuine and I so enjoyed the process and revelation of Ari's thoughts, as we read the novel through his eyes. His fears and the way he considered and tried to grapple them was so gorgeously done, but so was around 80-93% of the novel. It is utterly gorgeous, quotable, reread worthy and stunning. And so very real.

Also set in the late 80s, which I didn't expect.

Rating: Excellent.
Gorgeous and not to be anticipated. If you're about to go into it, kick away your expectations, do. Just let it wash over you like a dream.

24 comments:

  1. This book has gotten so many great reviews - I'm not surprised that you loved it! I haven't gotten to read it yet, but I'm so glad that this is such a moving, beautiful book! It's been some time since I've read something that I felt was immensely quotable, so I look forward to that when I finally read this!

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    1. I'm always kind of hesitant yet excited about books that have all positive reviews, but luckily for me this was mostly fantastic! Oh, I'm excited for you to read this, Charlene! And aah. So quotable. So quotable. x

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  2. This book <3. One of my favourites that I re-read certain passages for. Thanks for sharing this wonderful review. I loved the presence of the families and how different Ari and Dante were personality-wise. I completely agree about the need for the self-acceptance arc as the main heart of the story as much as I cheered for the romance.

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    1. I'm so, so happy to finally have read it, Glaiza! It's about time, too. You can only swoon for so long, apparently. Yes! It was nice to see two who were polar opposites, really, but had such a genuine attraction. I really liked that, too. Awesome comment- you pinpoint such important elements. xx

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  3. It's been a while since I've read this but I didn't love it if I remember correctly. I think though it's because I don't really like contemporary books. So that probably didn't help. I will never forget the cover of this book though. Simply amazing artwork. Though I do love the themes in the book. Friendship.. family.

    PS... I just finished Rat Queens and loved it! Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. Ah well, I think I remember you saying, actually. I can imagine it would be a little difficult, and all reading enjoyment is dependant on what you enjoy and the styles you prefer. This wasn't what I anticipated, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot!
      The cover is so intricate. I didn't realise until I really looked at it. So neat.

      YAY! So excited to read your future thoughts on it, Angela! xx

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  4. YESSS. I'm so glad you loved this one, Romi! I was surprised by the fact that the romance only really blossomed towards the end, but I also loved and appreciated the fact that their friendship was the most important, and that Ari had to come to terms with being in love with Dante in his own time.

    I really liked the family aspects, as well. Because like you said, a lot of the time those kinds of interactions and connections are just kind of left out in YA so that the characters don't have to answer parental questions.

    I definitely agree that there are many quotable passages in this book, and I know this is one I will be rereading one day. I need to soak up all those feels again.

    Great review, lovely <3

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    1. Yes, I was expecting it to come into play a lot earlier. I mean, we kind of do see it, but only in thoughts and feelings. I was waiting for more than that. I even started doubting myself! Would it actually happen!?

      Yes, it struck me in the end by how strong it was and how normal, how I just wanted that in all the books it could be in. Support and love. And I guess it's noted so often because so few books have it, whereas it should just be normal.
      xx

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  5. Haha yes, it's the 80s. But it is a gorgeous, timeless story. And I'm so happy to hear you loved it. This book shows us so many "love": family love, love between friends and then Ari and Dante.... And every character felt so real. Awww, I can't put into words how much I love this book.

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    1. Definitely. It was so interesting, being set in the 80s, too. I didn't expect it, but it didn't affect how I enjoyed it.
      The books you can't put into words, for you love them just too intently, those are the best. xx

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  6. I love this book. I love, love, love it. I'm so glad you did too. <3

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad to hear it's one of your favourites, Joy! It's really beautiful. xx

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  7. I think I had no idea there would be romance until halfway through the book haha I went in knowing nothing but it was a pleasant surprise. I'm still amazed how natural the love and support from the 2 families fit into Ari & Dante's world and it was so beautiful ;_____; "Just let it wash over you like a dream" exactly! What a beautiful review, Romi.

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    1. I went in knowing so much, but yeah, it takes a long time to bloom so it's still fresh, I guess. Yes. I'm so, so interested in Ari and Dante's support system- their families were really real, genuine, loving, and I just wish there were more visible families in YA.
      Thank you so much! xx

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  8. Wash over you like a dream. Absolutely beautiful Romi and wonderfully put <3

    That's one of the aspects that I adored about this one too, for all it's little complexities, it was effortless. The writing flowed beautifully and both boys were so well developed and loved being taken on their journey's of self discovery and finding their place in the world. I loved Ari that little bit more. His life seemed so bright and full, but behind the smiles and flamboyant boy was such a heartbreaking sadness at being accepted as he was. I just love love LOVED this book and absolutely stoked at how much you enjoyed it too. Brilliant review Romi <3 really enjoyed it.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kelly! xx

      It felt so real to life. Hardships, secrets, emotions. They were all there and painted so, so gloriously. But still honestly. I love it when books are like that, they are real to life and paint pictures you knew about but didn't see a certain way, whatever it is. This is just so beautiful in that way.
      xx

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  9. Looks like I've definitely got to check this one out then! I have seen all the positive reviews as well, and it's AWESOME to know that they all were obviously on to something. Still, I'm going to try and follow your advice and go into this one and just go with the flow. Great review :)

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    1. Oh, I hope you do, Alise! I definitely think making sure your expectations aren't too high for anything is good. I expect a lot from my lit, but I also don't want to miss out on something that's just nicely enjoyable because I was expecting way more than it delivered. It's an interesting thing to consider.
      Thank you! xx

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  10. I guess this officially makes me the last one left to read this! But ohh, I will never tire or cease to feel excited when I read people's description of the prose. So I do hope to get to this one soon! It's long overdue. Thank you for sharing your candid thoughts, Romi!

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    1. Oh no! Well, I'm too glad to have read it now to jump back into that boat, although I was in it for about 2 years after "everyone" had read it. GET A COPY! Aylee, it should totally be the next book you buy. Do it. Do it. Do it. Definitely long overdue, and I'm certain you'll adore it. xx

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  11. I have heard so many good things about this book! I should have picked this book up sooner! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    -Jordan

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    1. Oh, I'm glad to hear it, Jordan! I hope you enjoy it to little pieces of beautiful, quotified paper. It's rather exquisite. xx

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  12. I had heard a lot of amazing things about this book as you had said, but I didn't expect for me to like it as much as I did. I am not really a fan of LGBT books - being honest here xD - and I don't think I would have liked it if it wasn't a clean romance? For some reason I expected it wouldn't be one, but read it anyway because of how much praise it got!

    It's a character driven read, and I am a character driven reader. Like you said, the romance is incredibly slow moving but I liked the discovery that the two very different families went through. A great book.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this a heck of a lot more than you expected! I'm sorry to hear you're not a fan of LGBT+ books, since that's something I'm really passionate about, and I think we need so many more books that show what it's like to be a person who doesn't identifiy as straight, but at the same time aren't defined by the sexuality or sexual preference/identity of the characters within.

      I'm happy you enjoyed this, though, and hope you find more LGBT+ books that quietly surprise and endear you. xx

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