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Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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.

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World is the sequel I did not know I needed but I’m so glad I have. I will say if you have yet to read the first in this series then don’t read this review as just discussing this book brings about a lot of spoilers! You’ve been warned!

In the first book we see Aristotle and Dante find love in one another and the book ends with Aristotle realising he is in love with Dante. The sequel picks up exactly where we left off and follows the two boys as they navigate their new relationship whilst living in an incredibly cruel world. I loved the first book in this series and it holds a very special place in my heart and now so does the sequel.

It was incredibly heart-warming to see the relationship between Aristotle and Dante develop. This book is set around the time that AIDs was inflicting so much pain and death on the community and most people stayed silent despite the pain and death that was going on around them. So it was lovely to see Aristotle and Dante grow throughout this. I am glad that this novel included what was going on in the real world at the time and how people like Aristotle and Dante dealt with it.

Throughout the first book we get a lot of cute moments of friendship between the boys. So, it was lovely to see in the sequel that they develop their relationship and navigate the world together. I loved watching them fall in love whilst navigating other things in their lives. I thoroughly enjoyed how they explore all aspects of each other’s personalities and life needs, no matter if they are positive or negative.

I loved the character development in this book. We get to see Aristotle grow as a person and find a way to use his words as an outlet for his feelings. It was really nice to read how about feelings and see him progressed throughout the book. The same goes for Dante, we get to see him grow, develop his feelings and become such an amazing character, more so than in the first book. I am quite astounded by how much we actually see the pair develop from the first book to the end of the sequel.

I cannot review this book without talking about the family dynamics in this story. The relationships that both Aristotle and Dante have with their parents and further family are incredibly wholesome. It is often the case that parents are absent in YA books but that is not the case here. These books show healthy parent and child relationships. Especially when it comes to Aristotle and his parents, because he comes to realise just how much he loves them in this book. Some of the conversations between him and his father brought tears to my eyes because of how beautiful and open they were. That alongside other things that go on in his and Dante’s family make this book so beautiful. I cannot fault the family dynamic in this book at all.

We don’t just get to see Aristotle create stronger relationships with Dante and his parents though. We also get to see him form some new friendships and form stronger bonds in friendships he already has. It is so lovely to see how close Susie, Gina, Cassandra and Aristotle become. They are always there for each other at all times and it really helps Aristotle along in his character development. I am so glad that their friendships were a central part to the story.

There is only one issue I have with this book and it is that the ending felt as though it was rushed. There is something that happens towards the end of the book and everything that followed on from that felt rushed. It was as though the author didn’t want to give it enough time in the story. Despite this, I enjoyed how the book ended but I just wish the ending event had more build up and was allowed more time to impact the reader.

Overall, I absolutely adored Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World. It is wholesome, heart-warming and beautifully written. All the relationships in this book filled me with joy but especially the one between Aristotle and Dante. The sequel was well worth the wait and is well worth the read. I would highly recommend picking this one up and the first in the series if you have yet to do so!

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