Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe while I discover I’m no longer aversive to young adult novels

Genre: young adult novel. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 4.34 (from 170397 given ratings!) ⭐️Stars from me: 4.

the book on a porch in front of the sea

I think the book annihilated the remains of my aversion to young adult genre. I used to treat the genre as a sort of wild teenage party. It is surely fun, but only for a certain age which I have already left behind. With this book, though, I discovered that the genre can be fine with me too, especially if I read it somewhere between observing Patrick Melrose’s drug abuse, and unraveling the prose of Sarah Perry. (In case you don’t know who they are, Patrick Melrose is the main character in several novels about his very complicated life, and Sarah Perry is an amazing author whose writing is so intricate that to read ten pages of her book takes about the same time as reading this young adult novel.) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (boy, this title is long) is a great break from everything hard that sometimes happens in literature.

the book with the sunset in the background

I don’t mean though that the book is on easy topics. It’s just written in a way that doesn’t overload you. All the hardships of the book are slightly blurred, so you don’t get to witness anything really graphic. More than that, one of the main big dramas of the book eventually acquires such an angle that a reader can almost feel relieved that it did happen, because when something bad happens to a bad guy it’s justice and everybody should be happy [sarcasm].

What’s the book about

It’s about a teenage boy called Aristotle whose family has a complicated history. Aristotle is not very close to his parents, especially not to his father who has his own traumas. Aristotle meets Dante, who’s a complete opposite of him. Dante is open, friendly, full of love and art. Even Dante’s father is a nice, friendly guy. The book is about the relationships between the two boys, and about the way people of all ages grow to understand and express their own feelings.

That’s where I read the book 🙂

What I liked about the book

Its construction

Even though I understand that the main treasure of this book is how it addresses the topic of diversity, love and acceptance, and the way it shows the world to a younger audience, I mainly liked how easy it was to read the book.

Just look at this! It’s a chapter!

A mini chapter?


And it’s a dialogue! 😄

a close-up of the book

The writing

It is simple, but not unpleasant. Taking into account that it’s written for younger audiences with (presumably) a shorter attention span, it’s probably a perfectly-written book.

It’s so quickly to read!

It took me just a couple of hours to finish the whole book!

the book near a tree

What I didn’t like about the book

It was hard to follow the dialogues

As you can see in the photo above, there’s no indication who the lines belong to. Besides, sometimes the characters echo each other’s lines. That’s why it’s easy to mix them up by the end of the page.


Some things are slightly too naive or convenient, like all-knowing parents advice at the right moment, or big important conversations that finally happen. But I guess it’s the quality of the genre, and it will feel right for someone younger.

Redundant characters

I really don’t know why some characters happened in the book. Their presence was not necessary even as extras.

Aristotle is a drama queen sometimes

I understand that he’s a teenager with unbalanced emotions, but some of his reactions didn’t seem natural even through this prism.

Slightly empty plot

I expected there to be more adventures, taking into account that it’s a book about teenagers, with a part of the story taking place during summer holidays. There are a few highlighted events, but they would comfortably fit into a much shorter book.

Overall impression

It’s a great light read on deeper topics. If you like young adult novels, or looking for something easy to read, you will most likely enjoy Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

close-up of the cover

20 thoughts on “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe while I discover I’m no longer aversive to young adult novels

  1. God you’re making me so jealous of your reading spot! Anyway, back to the book, I have this on my readlist but I’m kind of afraid to read it because I read a novel about two boys that was praised so much and I ended up not liking it very much (if you have to know it was They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera) and it might be a bit similar (without the dying part). I get what you mean that they’re a bit naive or they get into a state where we as adults (ha) don’t make anything of it. I’m still going to read it and you’ve reassured me a little bit at least that it’s quite enjoyable. Great review witchy!

    1. Is there really a book that has a spoiler in its own title? Wow, that’s an unconventional approach… Well, I won’t give you any spoilers, but if there was anything really traumatising I would have warned you. I actually find it very easy, light. Maybe it’s because I’m reading it simultaneously with reading Patrick Melrose (and nothing is ever easy about Patrick Melrose).

    1. Actually now, after reading this book, I’m sure I will read the one you liked so much. The Fault in Our Stars, if I remember the name correctly? I’m reassured about the genre now 🙂

  2. I’m SO glad to hear you ended up enjoying this! I find this to be such a beautifully written book and it makes me happy that you thought it was as well. And great review! 💙

    1. Thank you Brianna! Yes, it was a good decision to read this book. I first thought to leave it till summer, because it felt like a more summery read when I first tried it, but the book kept calling me, so I picked it up and read it in one sitting. It was really nice!

    1. Timothy that sounds sad, but beautiful 🙂 I heard they can be very different and some are very dark. In fact I’m reading one now that doesn’t sound easy anymore. Do you have one that you really like?

      1. It does sound more sad than I meant to ;-). I really liked ‘Simon vs the homo sapiens agenda’. The latest YA I read. Perfect read at the poolside 🙂

        1. I looked at this book several times, and the thing that pushed me away was that it seemed to be mentioned everywhere at some point and I was afraid it’s just another heavily publicised book that doesn’t have anything else to give. So, I guess I’m wrong?

      2. Yes, the hype is big. But it’s a cute story and it’s well written. It stands out because it’s relatabl to many youngsters. It is also ‘just another coming-out story’. But as context evolves, coming-out stories can always use an update.

        1. That’s interesting. I put it on my list. I am basically carefully about young adult books because I worry about the writing. But if you say that the writing is ok, then I will definitely read it. I wonder what made it so popular. Just some good luck?

  3. Ah, mini chapters! Nice!! <3
    Sounds like a great read! I hope i'm gonna get around to reading it soon as well.
    Love the photos too. It's currently sunny here too, but it's kinda deceiving. I know i'm gonna freeze as soon as i step outside 😀

    1. Is it also windy? When it’s sunny here it means it’s warm, even in winter, unless it’s windy. If it’s windy, it’s SO cold, the face freezes off.

      Mini chapters were such a treat! It felt so nice to be just gliding through a book.

  4. I read this last month and loved it too, which was a great surprise! It seems like we had similar impressions of the book, glad you liked it! Also, that beach is gorgeous. You have definitely made some people jealous, ha

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