Friday, August 19, 2016

#ReadThemAllThon & Review: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I've had a bit of a slow start to the #ReadThemAllThon but this weekend has started off great. I finished off my first book, Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and I've got the review below. My Happiny will be evolving to a Chansey before you know it.

I want to take a moment to thank Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks for making and maintaing the graphic you see above. She made a great way to showcase the info about my Pokemon, her current stats, and what Gym Badges I've earned so far.

With the completion of Aristotle & Dante, I've earned the Rainbow Badge for reading a book featuring diversity.

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.

Rating: 3.5 Stars 

As I read this for the #ReadThemAllThon specifically for one challenge regarding diversity, I was glad to have picked a book that turned out so well in showcasing what I was looking for. There was a lot shown here about the duality of being a Mexican-American and the difficulties that lie within. Ari showed us not only his own struggles through his internal monologue, but through his relationship with Dante we learned about Dante's struggle with not feeling one half of his heritage. Through Ari's interactions with his parents we hear about his family still in Mexico versus family members that have left for new lives in the States. The contrast between their lives is interesting to view, especially as Ari seems them and reconciles them to his own experiences.

What I liked about the romantic aspect of the story was that it was introduced slowly and very subtly.  I almost wasn't sure where things were going to end up until the last few chapters in the book when something tragic happens and Ari really starts figuring things out not only about himself, but about the people he surrounds himself with. He starts discovering the answers to questions that have hounded him all of his life: what happened to my brother? Why do we pretend he doesn't exist? Why do I always feel like something is off? Watching him struggle made this book so sad to read at times, but that made it more real than if  there weren't a struggle.

I read this in two different ways, as I had to work during the majority of the time I wanted to read it. The audio book from Audible is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame and I thought he did a good job. Something I noticed, though, was that listening to the book, I felt like there were parts of the book that dragged more than when I went back and reread them. Now, I'm not sure if this had to do with those portions being a reread section, but the audio was good but not great. Reading it through on my own was a better experience in the long run, though I want to thank Miranda for being an excellent narrator and getting the pronunciations of all the Spanish words correct.

Overall, the experience of reading this book was a good one. I was engaged in finding out why Ari was the way he was, how Dante fit into all of this, and what they meant to each other. While it was good,  I can't say the story blew me away, hence the 3.5 star rating.

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  1. I'm glad you mostly liked this! I just tried the audiobook, but it wasn't for me, so I stopped at 10% and then skipped ahead to find out what happens.

    1. It was definitely an interesting read. It makes me curious what the sequel could possibly be about. I'm not sure the same story from Dante's perspective would be needed, but I'm also not sure where the story would go from where it ended. I look forward to finding out when it's published.

  2. I'm glad you liked it! I've been meaning to read this book for a while now, and I'll probably have to check it out from the library as a physical copy. :-)