Fans of Aristotle and Dante, the day is finally here! Nearly a decade after the publication of its prequel, Ari and Dante’s story continues in the new novel by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World.
Ari and Dante must learn what it means to stay together and protect the love they share
Picking up where Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe left off, Ari and Dante are now together, having officially declared their love for one another at the end of the prequel. Loving Dante seems easy, and it has opened Ari up to relationships and bonds that he had previously shut himself off from. He grows closer to his parents, strengthening their relationship in a way that formerly felt unobtainable. He reaches out to friends and finds himself with a larger family than he had ever known before. It all seems wonderful and serene.
But the reality of Ari and Dante’s world sinks in quickly. The AIDS epidemic is a tangible danger to homosexuals’ lives, and society as a whole scorns the very existence of Ari and Dante’s love. In a world that refuses to accept them, Ari and Dante must learn what it means to stay together and protect the love they share.
Sequels can be difficult to get right
Sequels are hard to write, especially after the wide success of a story’s first book. There are a lot of expectations surrounding the publication, and a lot of pressure on the author to ensure that it is just as good—if not better—as its predecessor. In fact, Benjamin Alire Saenz himself shares how anxious he was in the days leading up to its publication.
Yet, Saenz truly delivered with this continuation of Ari and Dante’s story. It’s a beautiful continuation of Ari, Dante, and all of the friends and family that we have come to love in Saenz’s story.
A more sobering yet still enjoyable read
The tone of this novel certainly differs from the prequel. The first book was about Ari coming to terms with who he is and accepting his love toward his friend, but the sequel touched on more sobering topics as it progressed.
The AIDS epidemic and its ensuing devastation on homosexuals is elaborated on more extensively in this installment. Ari and Dante are confronted with the ramifications that homosexuals can face in their society, from being ostracized to being physically attacked because of who they love. Ari is forced to face a shattering loss that threatens the foundation of everything he built throughout the series.
Beauty is found among pain
Yet, Saenz does a masterful job at weaving these realistic, somber topics with beautiful, delightful themes of found family and love. Ari opens himself up to several friends at school that he had brushed aside, and he soon finds himself at the center of a tight-knit found family. He repairs his relationship with his parents and his sisters, and he makes an effort to connect with his estranged brother.
We as readers not only get to experience Ari and Dante’s relationship, but we also get to experience the bonds between Ari and the other people in his life in such a profoundly genuine way. It was delightful to be able to get to know the secondary characters in this series and truly feel for them as individuals in Ari and Dante’s story.
It can be safely said that this book was more than worth the wait. Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World is a beautiful addition to Ari and Dante’s story, and I was ecstatic at the opportunity of revisiting such beloved characters.
Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz was released on October 12th, 2021.
Read our interview with the author here.