Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saejz


Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

My rating: 5/5

Goodreads rating: 4.32/5

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster

Summary (Goodreads):

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.



This book was BRILLIANT! AaDDtSotU  was book that was recommended to me a while a go when I started to get back into reading and I am so glad I got to read it finally! This contemporary is just so different from other contemporaries. It feels like it doesn’t take place in the same universe, but a different one where everything is calm and THE MAIN CHARACTERS HAVE LOVING FAMILIES! Sorry, but that’s like a really rare thing in YA these days. Anyway, let’s talk about this book in more detail.


So the story follows Aristotle, also know as Ari, as he learns what it means to grow up, become a ‘man’ and love all while in the company of his slightly odd, but smart friend Dante who he meets by the swimming pool one summer day. As their friendship becomes stronger, Ari slowly starts to to realise that Dante  might be the best thing that happened in his life and maybe there was more to life than being angry and sad all the time.

So this book is really slow, there is no denying it, but it is definitely more of a pro than con. The gentle pace of the plot gives you the time to ponder over Ari’s deep questions and it reflects realistically on life. Life isn’t always fast paced and full of twists and turns. Sometimes life is slow, mellow and confusing. It was refreshing but also like wrapping a blanket around you while you read this book. I enjoyed Ari’s running commentary of his mental state and how all over the place it is. This book seemed like a living breathing teenager.


The writing was so beautiful. It was very lyrical which just added to the magic of this book. It was lyrical but not over the top, simple but not dull. I loved how Benjamin wrote Ari’s thoughts and musings and how he described them. Everything was just really pretty and thoughtful and vivid. I didn’t know a book could have such complex way of talking about life, but it’s also very simplistic which made me want to read on and on. It’s rather captivating. Benjamin wrapped and entwined many themes on this book which were all expressed beautifully and in the almost naive voice of Ari.

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


I loved Ari. I know people thought his was a bit of a jerk but I can’t disagree with that statement enough. He is one of the most loyal, kind, loving, big-hearted male character I’ve had the pleasure of reading. He is everything, the rain and the sun, the question and the answer. His a teenager, so his impulsive, passionate, unpredictable, moody and I could read his character any day. Ari is breathtakingly realistic and inquisitive that you can’t help but love this character.

Dante is sure, but doubtful at the same time. Kind and blunt, naive and smart. He is the other half of Ari, the half the makes Ari a better person in the end. Both of them are written so beautifully and their friendship even more so.

What I liked:

  • The lyrical writing
  • The stunning characters
  • Tone and atmosphere
  • The friendship

What I disliked:

  • Nothing.

Verdict: This story is beautiful. Captivating, lyrical and simplistic, this is a book that everyone should read. After reading this book I think I have learned something- everyone has a little bit of Aristotle inside of us.







14 thoughts on “Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saejz

  1. Bookenstein says:

    I’m glad you loved this book! I just finished it, and I think I’m in love… I also can’t believe it took me so long to get around to this. The writing is SO. FREAKING. BEAUTIFUL. That is all.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Bookenstein says:

        SAME. It ended and everything fell into place… and I kind of wanted to sob at my desk [the downfall to listening to audiobooks when you’re supposed to be working]. I was actually in awe that it managed to live up to all of the hype since I’m so often disappointed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bookenstein says:

        It was so far from my expectations, and I was 100% not disappointed. Ari finally letting go and crying was such a satisfying moment. I think I made an audible noise… which is why I’m so glad that I work around people who also spend their day listening and reacting to books.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bookenstein says:

        So. Good. I’m thinking about giving a few of Saenz’s other books a shot just to see if that amazingness is translated there as well.
        And right now, I’m an “Audience Development Editor” for an online publishing company… Which translates into me sitting on a computer all day babysitting my library account while avoiding all relevant work.


  2. MyBookJacket says:

    I don’t usually read YA but I’ve heard such great things about this that I got my hands on a copy. I didn’t know not having loving families was a common theme in the genre!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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