Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz

RATING: ★★.5

Most of the books I read follow a female protagonist - usually a white, straight, living in California and extremely pretty one. So it's so nice to find a book that's completely different. 

Aristotle is a boy, Mexican and there's no emphasis on his beauty either way (hello gender roles anyone?). He meets Dante and they develop a friendship that slowly blossoms into something that confuses Aristotle. This book had all the potential in the world, but it just didn't really deliver for me.


So the basic plot is pretty straight forward - Aristotle is a typical teenager : confused, unhappy and lost. He lives with his parents and is really close to his mother, but struggles to really connect to his father. He has an older brother who is in jail for something that no one wants to talk about and doesn't really have many friends.

Aristotle meets Dante, who is an old soul stuck in a teenage boy's body. Dante is confident, secure and knows exactly who he is and what he wants. As usual, opposites attract each other. 

Aristotle is (nonsuprisingly) an overthinker.

We all know - kind of at least - what the original Aristotle was known for. He liked to think and analyse everything, and this new Aristotle definitely follows his path. And that's exactly why he didn't work for me. He seemed very mature for a teenager and seemed to overanalyse everything - he could never just let life happen to him. Everything was a big deal. While I understand that some people are that way, I just couldn't relate to it. Have some fun Aristotle, you don't have to be intelligent all the time.

Dante on the other hand read like he was 12 instead of an older teenager. His impulses didn't make any sense and he always followed his heart. Again, it just was too extreme for me to really relate to him. I like characters that are a bit like Aristotle and Dante together. A combination of both would have allowed to relate more. As the book is now, I just couldn't identify with anyone.

Short sentences - quick read

The book is narrated by Aristotle who is, as mentioned before, very intelligent. However, the sentences used by writer Benjamin are all very short. If Aristotle is so smart and such a thinker, wouldn't he have longer, more rambling sentences? It just didn't make sense to me.

But, it does mean the book is an easy and quick read - I finished it in one day. The bonus of that is that you really get sucked into the story. It's a completely different world and there are many plot twists that keep you interested as a reader. I also thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of the relationship between two boys , which was very original. If only all these things happened to other characters....


There's not a whole lot to say about this book. I just didn't like the main characters at all, so it was very hard to enjoy it. I have to give the writer credit for the plot and the way the explored the relationship between Dante and Aristotle. However, I was annoyed by them throughout the book, so it's two and a half out of five for me.