ARC review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is, like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a beautifully written book. However, unlike Ari and Dante, it’s a book about absolutely nothing. Unlike with Ari and Dante, I was so bored by this book that I nearly fell asleep on multiple occasions. And I’m not even being that dramatic when I say that this is heartbreaking, because Ari and Dante was such a good book, and it kills me when an author’s follow-up doesn’t live up to my expectations.

This book has basically no plot. I mean, sure, things happen. I guess you could call it a coming-of-age novel. Sal and his friends are confronted with death, grief, homophobia, anger, and violence. Some might call this a character-driven story. At its core, it’s about Sal and his friends during their final few months of high school. That’s fine. I read and enjoy coming-of-age novels all the time. But what’s not fine is that this book is 450+ pages of very pretty-sounding metaphors and musings of a teenage mind, and not much else.

I might have gone into this book a bit annoyed because the publisher insisted on sending it to me as an .acsm file. (I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain about free books.) I’m always annoyed when I have to deal with .acsm files, particularly because it means that I have to read it on my phone, and even though I’m only in my mid-twenties, I think that phone-reading is best suited to the youths. I’m too old for that nonsense. Give me a physical copy (or at least my Kindle) any day.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was already a bit annoyed when I finally got the file to open. I went into it with a “this better be worth it” attitude, so part of my distaste is most definitely my fault. But in addition to my pre-existing annoyance and the lack of plot, there are just some weird things that happen throughout this book. I don’t want to go too much into details here, but we have Sal’s anger issues but no real root cause. We have Sam and her “bad boy” problem that never really gets dealt with. We have some oddly offensive side plots and throwaway comments that seem to come out of nowhere and leave a lot to be desired.

Originally I had rated this book four stars, but upon thinking it over, I really have to take it down to three. Who knows, with time it might change again. All I can say is that right now, this book was very middle-of-the-road for me. Certainly not awful, but also not much more than pretty writing. Mostly, I think I was just disappointed that it wasn’t Ari and Dante, part two.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Sometimes, all you have to do is tell people the truth. They won’t believe you. After that, they’ll leave you alone.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Goodreads | Amazon

Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?

Ari and Dante are polar opposites. While Dante openly loves everyone and everything, Ari keeps his emotions locked away, not even acknowledging them to himself. Dante is happy. Ari is mad at everyone, including his parents, his brother in prison, and himself. When Dante notices Ari struggling at the pool and offers to teach him to swim, Ari doesn’t think they’ll have much in common. He certainly doesn’t expect that they’ll become best friends.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is the best kind of book – one I would have loved as a teenager, and one I still love now. So often, I read young adult novels and think, “Hey, I probably would have liked this ten years ago, but now it doesn’t really do it for me.” Not so with this one. I think teenagers, twenty-somethings like myself, and adults can all enjoy this story.

I can’t do this book justice in a review, so I’ll keep it short. If you’re considering reading this book, just do it. It’s a beautiful story. You won’t regret it.

Final rating: 

Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer morning could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | Benjamin Alire Sáenz