Book Reviews

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz (Book Review)


Title : Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author : Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genre : YA Contemporary

Standalone (I think?)


Goodreads Summary

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.


1. The issues dealt withI generall really admire and appreciate authors who write in the lgbtq+ genre, and I really liked that the author picked up that theme. Also, there are mild ways in which racism is dealt with, which again is commendable.

2. The friendship and it’s development : I love how the entire book is about developing Ari and Dante’s frienship and love. There was no insta-love or insta-friendship (is that even a thing?) and it was well developed over the entire length of the book.

3. Family relationships :  I really like books which devote a part of them towards family issues and relationships. In this case, I really loved both the families and their little nuances and their trials and tribulations. I loved reading about the relationship which a 16 or 17 year-old has with his parents (which was very realistic), I loved how the families reacted and accepted their kids, and how supportive and loving both families were.


1. The writingI felt that the writing was really detached and I couldn’t connect with it at all. It was just really bland and dry and lacked any kind of impact or expression. It just spoiled everything and brought down this book from a 4.5 to a straight 2 stars for me. I literally liked almost every other thing in the book (as you can see, I don’t haven’t listed a lot of cons) and I can’t help thinking that had the writing been better, this book could have easily been one of my favorite reads this year. I feel that the author tried to be lyrical and philosophical, but it really didn’t work. At least for me.

2. Doesn’t do justice to the self-discovery tropeI love books which deal with self-discovery. But sadly, this book just failed in that department. Most of the incidents/occurrings in the book held little importance and it was just not enough to hold my interest or make me feel anything.

Recommend to?

YA Contemporary readers, you might give it a try, since this is one of the most loved and highly-rated YA books ever. So, yeah give it a try!

A ‘good book’ or a ‘good read’?

An unimpressive book. A bland read.

My Rating

2/5 stars


9 thoughts on “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz (Book Review)

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