Synopsis (from 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.
This book hit me right in the feels, you guys. I can’t believe I put off reading it for so long.
Up until last year, I was not a fan of books that fall under the “contemporary” category. I just avoided them for some reason. My personal preference is toward genre fiction and it still is. But I’m glad I’ve come around to the concept of contemporary now. Is this contemporary though? It’s set in the 1980’s. I guess that’s too recent to be classed as historical fiction, so contemporary it is.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was, until recently, one of those hyped books I purposefully stayed away from. But in the interest of expanding my reading to include more diverse books and LGBT stories, I decided it was time to stop avoiding and read the thing already. And I’m very glad I did. Though I have not personally experienced anything like what our narrator Ari goes through, I found him to be a very relatable character and a rarity among the more boisterous (and sometimes obnoxious) young men we see in popular fiction. He’s quiet and introspective, and I related to that. His struggle to come to terms with his own life, his feelings and his relationships felt very real and beautifully written. The author’s writing style is straightforward but with a lovely lyrical quality that, despite having poetic undertones, never veers off into purple prose territory. The characters feel very real and they each have their little narrative quirks. As Dante says, they are “inscrutable”.
I did struggle with the pacing a little bit. Though I read this book in a day and a half, it takes a while for the plot to pick up. Maybe that’s because underneath the nice prose and well-crafted characters, there’s not an excessive amount of plot. Which I think works for this type of novel, but it did prevent me from getting really invested until I was more than halfway through. But in the end, the emotional payoff and positive conclusion made it well worth the effort.
- Coverart/Book design: 8.5/10 A-
- Plot/Concept: 8.5/10 A-
- Main character: 9/10 A
- Secondary characters: 8.5/10 A-
- Setting/Worldbuilding: 9/10 A
- Writing: 9/10 A
- Pacing: 8.5/10 A-
- Romance: 9/10 A
- Ending: 9/10 A
- Overall: 3.75 stars; somewhere between an A- and a full A.