Monday, July 29, 2013

Audio Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAuthor: by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release date: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BfYR
Hardcover, 359 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
        Audible

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.

No matter how many books I review, I so rarely describe them as beautiful, and yet, when I started thinking about Aristotle and Dante, beautiful was the only word that pushed itself to the forefront of my mind. It is a gorgeously written, warm little book that would melt even the most hardened of hearts. The second I finished it, I found myself torn between the need to celebrate it rather loudly, and the odd desire to keep it jealously to myself. Alas, with the well-deserved Printz medal on its cover, keeping it to myself was not an option, so here I am, ready to shout my love for all the world to hear.

Aristotle Mendoza is a boy angry at the world: at his father for keeping silent about the war, at his mother for practically erasing his incarcerated brother from their lives, at his sisters for being older and distant and at his friend Dante, mostly for being himself. Primarily, though, he’s angry at himself for not being able to change any of it.

Aside from Dante, Ari doesn’t have any friends, and his friendship with Dante is often awkward and confusing. Unlike Ari, Dante has no trouble speaking his mind and showing his more vulnerable side. He is open and lovable, sometimes perhaps too much of both.

It would be hard enough to be two Mexican boys in 1980’s Texas, but their challenges don’t end there. Each of them has family issues, insecurities, struggles and fears to deal with, and no matter how strong their friendship, it is always in danger of stretching thin.
Love was always something heavy for me. Something I have to carry.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz wrote this story with surprising candor. He created these two boys and placed them into roles they often found most uncomfortable: those of devoted sons, reluctant heroes, and teenage boys in love.

And another thing: if you can, get this one on audio. Lin-Manuel Miranda added a little something of himself to this story and made it even better, as unbelievable as that sounds. The fear of a young boy faced with big decisions felt even more real coming from his mouth, not to mention the accents without which this book just wouldn’t be the same.

At the risk of sounding cliché, this is a book I will never forget. It goes right up there with Brooklyn, Burning, Suicide Notes and Gone, Gone, Gone. It is heartbreakingly beautiful and poignant –I cannot recommend it enough.


26 comments:

  1. I am kinda in love with the title font of this book.

    The characters here seem awfully likable and you giving out a 5 is really rare! I need to have this one my TBR.

    Great review as usual, Maja! <33

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  2. This is one of the books that I wouldn't be able to pass somewhere. I really love the cover and from the blurb it sounds so promising. Good this isn't not just sounding like that. I like the sounds of characters and the story in general. Great review Maja :)

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  3. Is this a series? I swear I've seen this cover before (and love it -- it's so pretty!), though this story sounds like a standalone. *shrugs* Whatever. It sounds like a fantastic story! I love when the writing sweeps me up and carries me along into an amazing journey.

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  4. For a second there I thought this book was related to the Cassandra Rose Clarke series, it's the same font and a very similar design on the front so that threw me! I thought this was some novella I didn't realize she'd written, but it's clearly something entirely different. If you say it's beautiful Maja, then I know it absolutely is, and you have an uncanny ability to make me want to run and pick up a book I normally wouldn't give a second thought to. *shakes fist at your awesome reviews* Glad you fell madly in love with this one!

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  5. The cover is stunning and intriguing and your review really makes me want to go get it!

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  6. Some how this one as flown under my radar but I need to rectify that now after reading your review! thanks for bringing this one to my attention it sounds wonderful.

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  7. The more I come across this book online, the more I want to read it. It does sound truly amazing, and I'm glad this lives up to those impressions. I really want to meet Ari and Dante. Lovely review, Maja. :)

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  8. I had this one brought to my attention last week and thought that it sounded really good. I wish I could listen to audiobooks, I just can't focus on them and I end up having no idea what I listened to. So happy that this one was so great for you, Maja!

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  9. Dante and Ari sounds great, and I need to give this one time of day!

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  10. Oh sounds fab! You are shouting this to the world so I must listen! I'm so adding this to my wishlist. Plus these characters sound great. Oh man you have me wanting to read this now!

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  11. Ooh I love when I see five stars from you, because that basically means I'm going to abso-freaking-lutely adore whatever the book it! :-) I've seen very little about this book in the blogosphere, but what I have read has been glowing, so I clearly need to catch up and read it. Maybe I'll use my audiobook credit for it this month since the narrator is so wonderful. Lovely review Maja, I'm glad this book was so unforgettable for you!

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  12. DAMN IT! I so wanted to read this last year when I saw it and put it into a Friday Forecast something about it just spoke to me and then I didn't see any reviews and I forgot about it. As soon as I saw it in my email even without the picture I knew it was the book with the red truck on the front. I have to to get my grubby paws on this!

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  13. Up there with Gone, Gone, Gone? I just HAVE to get my hands on this now! I've had it recommended to me a lot, but just never got around to picking it up. Hopefully I can snag the audio version, but if not, I know I'm still in for a treat!(:

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  14. Whoa.... this sounds amazing. I probably would have completely passed this by.

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  15. I feel really embarrassed right now. I've had this book sitting on my nightstand since early Feb and haven't gotten around to it. I've read nothing but glowing reviews for it, but now I'm definitely going to make it my next read after I finish "Pivot Point".

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  16. I probably would have skipped over this one if not for your review. There was only one book I described as beautiful and that was The Night Circus. It sounds so emotionally charged and I will try my best to try and get this on audio!

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

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  17. I'm kind of sad I couldn't have got this audio, it sounds like it had a great narration. Thanks for recommending me this one, I agree, it was beautiful!

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  18. This book definitely flew under a lot of people's radar, I think, but it seriously sounds amazing. It's not a book I would normally go for, but the way you have praised this book makes me want to pick it up now! Thanks for the gorgeous review, Maja!

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  19. Oh it's definitely one I'll never forget either. I actually use beautiful to describe a lot of the books that touch me in some way, but you're right, it's completely fitting here. And you make me want to try this on audio now! I read a physical copy, but I'm curious to see how powerfully the story comes across when narrated. Lovely review, Maja! I'm so glad that this gem of a book impressed you too.

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  20. This sounds wonderful Maja, and your review comments about hugging it and keeping it to yourself, I love when I experience that, I love that you found it beautiful. Lovely review and I am adding it to my list:)

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  21. I haven't heard much about this one, Maja, but I'll be adding it to my wishlist based on your recommendation. It sounds so well-written and I really like the strong focus on friendship.

    The cover kind of resembles The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke.

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  22. WOW! I am totally blown away by your review. It really shows your love for this book. I am so very intrigued by this book, and Dante and Aristotle sound like fantastic characters. I love it when books such as this can get to you so deeply. I am definitely going to be pick this up, whether a physical copy or audio! I'm glad this book touched you, Maja! Amazing review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

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  23. Wow, five stars? I have to admit, I scrolled down to see what the rating was first. When I saw it was a five star, I was deeply interested. It sounds like this book is really worth reading. Dante and Ari seem like characters I can really be invested in. And the cover is so beautiful too, so that always helps too :)

    Great review, Maja!

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  24. I love how opposite these both guys are, yet they were able to form a special bond. I might give it a try. Great review, Maja! Plus, that has to be one of the most eye catching covers ever. Love it!

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  25. First of all that cover is gorgeous! I know you don't give out 5 stars very often so I sit up and take notice when you do. This sounds like a very touching story. It feels so special to connect with someone when you feel so lonely otherwise and it sounds like what happens to these boys. Wonderful review, Maja. I'll have to check this out. :)

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  26. I haven't finished even one book via audio, but I can see how it could make sense for a story like this. I've heard wonderful things about this book, but almost as if from a distance. I hadn't read a review written by a reviewer I trust until I read yours. This sounds quite different from my usual reading fare, but also like something I could really enjoy. I'll definitely have to look into reading this. Thanks, Maja!

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