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Hachette Book Group
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The Universe Versus Alex Woods Kindle Edition
|Length: 427 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top Customer Reviews
Alex has a fantastically well-realised narrative voice, with very penetrating observations to make about lots of things, all of which are deadpan and as a result are often funny as well as being very shrewd. For example, of his mother, a clairvoyant, he says: "...my mother revealed that she'd foreseen the entire catastrophe. Of course, she didn't realise that she'd foreseen the entire catastrophe until after it had happened." There are many examples of this sort of thing, and I loved it. I found echoes of Mark Haddon's The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime in Alex's voice, which is high praise indeed. Other characters are very believable and beautifully portrayed, and all have their own very distinctive and recognisable traits and voices. The story is excellently structured and paced, and I found myself utterly bound up in this book and it eventually hijacked my day because I couldn't bear not to finish it.
This is one of the best and most memorable books I have read for some time - very warmly recommended indeed.
I will not go into much detail on the story as there is a danger here of spoiling it for future readers. However, the main plot is about an unlikely friendship between Alex Woods, who is at school, and an elderly American whom he meets, Mr Peterson. It covers a period of about five years from when Alex is 12 to aged 17. Alex is from an unusual background, having a witch for a mother and having also being in the unlikely position of having survived being hit by a meteorite. Mr Peterson is a dour, veteran of the Vietnam War. The relationship between them builds very gradually but is complex and very meaningful.
This is a tale which is quite poignant in parts, but with plenty of humor mixed in. The end manages to be both sad and uplifting which is quite a difficult feat for an author to accomplish. Certainly I felt at the end that I would have liked to be able to read more in the same vein, but this book is very much a one off so it is unlikely that there will be more. However, it is certainly a read which most will enjoy and certainly I found myself thinking about the issues raised once I had finished, which is always a sign of a story which has had quite an impact.
"The Universe Versus Alex Woods" is very episodic.....this happens, then that, then this, etc. For this style of book to be stellar, the magic in the style of writing itself has to carry things. Kurt Vonnegut (Extence's self-proclaimed hero) was a master of sparkling, wonderous writing. Even though Vonnegut's books had more wild flights of fancy than just a meteorite hitting someone (which is the one fanciful conceit of "...Woods"), I always felt like he could have written about almost anything and still had me enthralled, through the sheer wonder of his writing style. I have every reason to believe that Extence is going to reach that type of writing in his career, probably sooner rather than later, but he isn't there yet in this, his first novel.
The characters are potentially interesting, but not fully realized. Ripe plot developments are teed up, but never really pursued. Overall, the read is pleasant and I did enjoy the book. But I realized about a third of the way through that this is an author I'm likely to love in the future, but he hasn't put it all together yet. I sense there may be a much more interesting and idiosyncratic writer underneath this book, waiting to get out. I hope Extence lets him roam free and wild for the next one. I look forward to seeing where this talented and intelligent writer takes his craft.
He's notorious because as a young boy, he was hit by a meteor and recovered after a two week coma, but not without consequences. He gets severe epilepsy, enough that it keeps him out of school for a year. Then he goes to school where he's bullied because he's different; isn't that the way?
I like how Alex figures stuff out and often lists it -- such as ways he doesn't fit in or how his friend Mr. Peterson needs help making a critical decision.
What I appreciated is that our precocious protagonist is real. He makes mistakes that seem genuine -- you could easily have made them. He also in the process of learning about life and literature, about how to control his own unsound brain and how watching someone he loves die.
I love that a major thread of the book is Kurt Vonnegut, absurdity, and secular humanism. I totally want to join The Secular Church of Kurt Vonnegut.
Alex learns from his friend, Mr. Peterson, an irascible war veteran who'd rather be left alone. Alex and Mr. Peterson rail against each other in a way that's hilarious -- Alex won't bring him certain kinds of music in the hospital, because he's not ready for it.
This book was a library ebook loan, and I loved it so much that I bought it. That's the highest praise, trust me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a story about an unlikely friendship between a teenage boy and an older man. It's a story of coming of age and the difficulties teens face, of illness and of death. Read morePublished 14 hours ago by Linda Davidson
This book made me realize once again how easily we judge people that are different!Published 1 day ago by purple
One of the best books I've ever read.
A touching tale of the friendship of a boy and a man. The boy, troubled by seizures after being hit by a metiorite is teased and bullied... Read more
This was an impulse purchase and I did not know at all what to expect: what a pleasant surprise!
Very well written, funny at times yet believable, the main character is very... Read more
Didn't care a whole lot for this book since it had a drab writing style and awful pacing, but I was intrigued by the teen/older person friendship. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Chasia Lloyd
My 2nd book club read and it was ok. I enjoyed the way it read...like a young boy dictating his story.Published 24 days ago by Monina
Nice unusual friendship story built on medical challenges for the narrator and principle character. Some excellent insights into what friendship means.Published 1 month ago by Jammer13