Synopsis:

The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved cult classic about family, friendship and first love, from award-winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. This lyrical novel will enrapture readers of Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End), The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Call me by your Name. 

A love story like no other.

In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys fell in love. Now they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.

Ari has spent all of high school hiding who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante – dreamy, witty Dante – who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.

The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.

Review:

I am really sad to say that I didn’t enjoy this book, and meeting again Aristotele and Dante was not the reunion I was expecting. 

I feel that the reboot/sequel bug which is currently destroying the movie culture is also affecting literature. This is of course just a humble personal opinion, but while reading this sequel I kept pondering “was this sequel really necessary?” 

I mean, even the writer started the acknowledgement section saying he never intended to write this book. It took him five years to write it, so I wonder, was it really because Ari & Dante were not done with him, or was it just to fill another commercial purpose? Do we really need to have so many sequels? Can we just leave a good story alone, and take it just as it is, a standalone? I am sorry to be so negative, but after loving every page of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, this book was so underwhelming, I can’t help but feel so disappointed. 

After finishing this book I came to the conclusion that the second book doesn’t add anything to Ari and Dante’ story. It ended with even more things unsaid about them. 

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World picks up right after the first book, and the first part was focused on the last days of summer. There was no plot, just a mere daily recap of what Ari & Dante were up to. I guess this part was actually ok, because it was more about these two characters, how they were living with their own relationship against a world that was not welcoming towards homosexuality with the rise in AIDS cases. After this part, which is when summer is over and school starts, the story completely derailed and it became a full train wreck. 

Dante was completely inexistent for a great part of the book. Instead, we have so many new characters brought into the story and Ari’s life, it gets too crowded. That’s merely because it seems Ari is on a mission to have profound conversations with all of them, except Dante. This story takes place in the ’80s so, of course, it talks about AIDS, how many gay people died during that period, and it also talks about transphobia, homophobia but it feels like the two main characters of this story never come to terms with these problems. So, here you have the book, lots of new characters from Ari’s high school life intertwined with passages from Ari’s journal, all these profound reflections and conversations that don’t really make a point. To me, all the big speeches about AIDS, patriotism, feminism (or misogyny?), homophobia, grief, and so on in this book only served the purpose to raise Aristotle above everyone else. He is the hero of the story, the perfect guy, everybody likes Ari and he never makes mistakes. Dante’s feelings or thoughts were never taken into consideration, and if I remember correctly, he was the victim of a homophobic assault in the first book, so my humble guess is he would have had a lot to say. Everything was just around Ari and it just didn’t feel realistic.  

It seems that at the end of the story, the main problem between Ari & Dante is their future together. What will happen after college? Will they still be together? And that’s it, they never come to terms with the sad reality of how the world events may impact their future and their relationship. Fair enough, maybe they didn’t need to talk about it, I’ll accept that maybe their only concern was life after college, or being jealous about Ari spending more time with his new friends. And if at the end of this story the only obstacle standing in front of Aristotle & Dante was life after high school, why do they never seriously talk about it? What was the purpose of this whole book and stirring in so many topics into this story? 

I am sorry, but this book was a big disappointment for me and maybe I am not educated enough to fully get it. The first one was too damn good and I think I will just pretend the second book didn’t happen and I will leave Aristotle and Dante where they were at the end of the first book, discovering the beauty of love and life.

Thank you so much Simon and Schuster UK Children’s and NetGalley for an e-copy of this book. The opinions above are my own.