Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Poetic and poignant

Today, I finished the latest book on my shelf: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. And maybe you haven’t heard of it, but I needed to write something about it. Anything. Because hell does this book deserve it.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

Ari and Dante are a pair of teenage boys, living in El Paso. They are opposing forces. Ari loses himself to thoughts of his imprisoned brother, while Dante loses himself to poetry. Ari isn’t the best at communicating, while Dante is skilled with words. Ari is filled with insecurity where Dante is filled with self-confidence. But during the summer that they meet, their lives are intertwined on a journey of growth and friendship. A journey of discovering the truths of the world.

And doesn’t that sound like the most terrifying journey of all to a teenager?

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Step back into the magic

Alright so now that you’ve had a few days to get out and see the long-anticipated addition to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Yates:2016), I think it’s safe for me to say my piece. And if you haven’t seen it yet, get yourself out to a cinema and watch it. Please. I’ve already had time to see it twice, what have you been doing?

Rowling’s wondrous world transports us back to New York in the 1920s, where one Newt Scamander arrives, armed with his precious case. A case filled with magical creatures. But how can you keep all those creatures in a case, I hear you ask? The answer is, you can’t, even with a little bit of magic, as Newt finds out when they begin to escape. Chaos ensues as Newt and co. try to round up all of his creatures before something happens to them, or anyone else.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Yeah, we know all that from the trailer, can we talk about the film now? Well, it would be my pleasure…

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Black Mirror – Nothing you see can harm you

Maybe I’m the only one left who hasn’t binge watched all 6 episodes of the new season of Black Mirror, but I watched episode 2 last night. The new season is on Netflix, after moving from its original home on Channel 4, (where currently only the Christmas episode is available to watch).

Episode 2 is titled ‘Playtest’ and follows Cooper, a globetrotting American currently in London, who takes a job testing a new game when he finds himself low on cash. The thrills in store are more than he believed possible, but things start to unravel when Cooper’s mind begins to work against him.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

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Westworld – Cowboys and Aliens done right

Now we all remember when Daniel Craig starred in the hybrid-that-should-never-have-been Cowboys and Aliens (Favreau:2011), don’t we? And surely we also remember how well it was received, or rather, how badly it was received? Well, now there’s a new Western/Sci-Fi mash-up on the block, only this time it’s on the small screen.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

Westworld is the latest high spec drama from HBO, combining these two well known and opposing genres in a new 10-part series (showing on SkyAtlantic every Tuesday at 21:00). I only managed to watch the first episode two days ago, so I’m a little late to the party, but boy am I glad I watched it.

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John Wick – Style before story

So this was a film that had been recommended to me as an action thriller fan, and when I saw it was recently added to Sky Movies, I was quick to snap up the opportunity to watch it. The poster looked promising, and the plot summary sounded enticing. But it didn’t live up to what it promised – needless to say, it wasn’t exactly Keanu Reeves’s finest hour.

I mean, it had promise, but somehow didn’t live up to that. The film began pretty well – with your kick-ass assassin protagonist returning to the game for vengeance, your typical villains who established themselves as little more than two dimensional arseholes within about 10 minutes, and it was all set up for the odds to be stacked completely against John Wick. But it didn’t really go anywhere from there. I’m all for re-using a formula if it’s been proved successful, but John Wick (Stahelski:2014) seemed to rely too heavily on this formula to let the story take off, and I wasn’t thrilled by it.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

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Victoria – Move over Lord M

ITV’s Victoria aired its fourth episode last night at 21:00. The drama follows the young Queen Victoria in her rise to the throne, and how the 18-year-old adjusts to life as Queen of England. The first three episodes I thought were marvellous. The writing was compelling, the acting phenomenal, the sets and costumes enchanting – it was doing everything right. I even heard musings that ITV had successfully found a replacement for the Sunday night slot that had been occupied by Downton Abbey.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Last week’s episode was simply brilliant. The mystery of Miss Skerrett continued and there was plenty more drama between Victoria and Lord M. The young queen was heartbreakingly turned down when she expressed her feelings, but we saw a depth to Lord Melbourne’s character when he gave her orchids to wear, and he proved himself to be a kind man. Perhaps circumstance prevents he and Victoria being together, and perhaps he really doesn’t have the feelings for her, but he certainly cares about her. Props to the writer for that development – it was handled with sensitivity and emotion.

But this week, I give no such credits.

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More Than This – The essence of adolescence

After finishing A Song of Ice and Fire, this was a step in a very different direction – with a totally different audience, style of story, and narrative voice. But I rarely have room for anything but praise when it comes to Patrick Ness, and this book was no exception. (Seriously, look him up. Even if not for the books, he is a refreshingly welcome voice on Twitter).

More Than This is about a boy called Seth who, in the first few pages, drowns. He dies. Then he wakes up. Where is he? What does this mean? Why has he woken up? Why has he woken up here?  Questions upon questions, and Seth is alone to discover if there is perhaps more to this life than he ever believed.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

Well here’s where I say that Patrick Ness has done it again: an original, arresting, heartbreaking, uplifting tale, that will stay with me for a long time.

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