I have been interested in reading more LGBTQ+ fiction for a while now. I liked Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but it was a little too heavy on the cute romance for my personal taste. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe seemed much more my taste. It is more about friendship and growing up than straight up romance. Aristotle and Dante are two fifteen year old boys who are very different, but somehow become friends. The novel follows them as they grow up together and apart. They learn about themselves, their families, and life.
I like this one more than Simon for the reason I talked about above, but I still have some issues with it. I am torn about my feelings for the characters. On one hand they have depth, but on the other hand they feel hollow and unrealistic. I think I feel this way because the novel has introspective depth. It approaches many relationship issues and life issues, but the characters themselves do not feel real. Some of the dialogue between Ari and Dante feels too adult to the point that the novel begins to feel pretentious. I like the topics in the novel, but perhaps having teenagers as the main characters does not quite fit the dialogue? That isn’t to say teens are incapable of having or understanding deep conversations or thought. They certainly can, but something makes Ari and Dante feel a little “off” to me. I will readily admit that I am having a pretty major YA literature burnout so that might have something to do with it too.
By no means is this book bad. It is good and it brings light to important topics for all ages. I also like the infusion of culture and race in the narrative. It is good to see more non-white literature and characters. I simply have some issue with the characters’ voices and the execution of the topics. I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a slower building and deeper romance than Simon, but the characters in Simon have more personality in my opinion.