- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Redhook; Reprint edition (January 14, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 031624659X
- ISBN-13: 978-0316246590
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 332 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Universe Versus Alex Woods Paperback – January 14, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2013: Quirky only begins to describe this incredibly touching tale of an epileptic British misfit science geek who befriends an aging American Vietnam War vet. As the book begins, Alex is a teenage boy, arrested and being questioned by the authorities. What happened? How did he get here? Who is this kid? Do we even like him? Debut novelist Gavin Extence dangles these questions before us, then cleverly leads us backwards in order to answer them. The story (and therefore our journey) starts years before, when young Alex was randomly, life-alteringly struck in the head by a meteorite, rendering him both a scientific celebrity and a school yard outcast. Kurt Vonnegut's influence is obvious within specific plot points, and is also noticeable in Extence's writing, where he strikes a balance of describing tragic events with comedic style, wrapping his seriousness within subtle absurdity. Specifically, his attention to bullying is distinct, yet unsanctimonious. By the time we're back in the interrogation room, our questions about Alex have been well answered, but a bigger question demands our attention: How far would you go for a friend? --Robin A. Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The great joy of this quirky novel is Alex Woods, an English boy who's been hit by a meteorite. Alex recounts what follows with charm and wit, even when it includes seizures, bullying and the grave illness of his best friend, an old man. Pulsing with humor and insight, this book is a delight."―People Magazine
"[An] incredibly touching tale... [Extence] strikes a balance of describing tragic events with comedic style, wrapping his seriousness with subtle absurdity."―Amazon.com (Best Book of the Month, July 2103)
"Warm and funny and tragic and uplifting all in one. Extence should be on everyone's radar."―Jasper Fforde
"Perfectly crafted and beautifully written... The Universe Versus Alex Woods may be a debut novel but it is an outstanding novel by any standards. Unforgettable."―Red (UK)
"With wit and warmth, Gavin Extence shines a light on one of the darkest, most difficult subjects of our times."―Sunday Express
"Mark Haddon meets Kurt Vonnegut."―Observer (UK)
"A bittersweet, cross-audience charmer, this debut novel will appeal to guys, YA readers, and Vonnegut and coming-of-age fiction fans."―Library Journal
"Extence's engaging coming-of-age debut skillfully balances light and dark, laughter and tears."―Publisher's Weekly (Starred review)
"The Universe Versus Alex Woods will put you through the wringer. But oh, what a wringer!"―NPR Books -- Included on their "5 Great Summer Reads for Teens" List
"[The Universe Versus Alex Woods is] done in a dark, offbeat style that brings to mind the characters' hero, the literary giant Kurt Vonnegut"―New York Post
"Clever storytelling, winning characters and nuanced rhythm... Alex is a precocious, endearing, infuriating and unexpectedly brilliant teenager, and he and his indelible voice are incapable of sticking on the road most traveled. Lucky us: We get to go along for the (sometimes bumpy) ride."―Denver Post
"The Universe Versus Alex Woods is the story of how misfit Alex comes to befriend an elderly American curmudgeon, learns to cultivate marijuana and develops a deep appreciation for the work of Kurt Vonnegut. It's a wonderful coming-of-age story, delivered in an offhand casual style that belies the deeply moral concerns of the author."―Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"Precocious and awkward, Alex Woods truly is a welcome addition to the literary world."―Charleston City Paper
"If you enjoy interesting and unique experiences, you will find this to be the must-read of the summer...[The Universe Versus Alex Woods] is a must-have for your library, and a treat for both the young, as well as the young at heart. There is some very deep subject matter discussed, yet the end result is extraordinary. Gavin Extence is an author to watch for."―Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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Top customer reviews
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.
I don't wish to divulge other aspects of the plot, but suffice to say that the characters (and the reader) soon find themselves grappling with important philosophical questions, perhaps the MOST important philosophical questions, including what makes life worth living, the nature and value of friendship, and what we are able to teach and do for one another.
The writing is excellent, and the characterization even better. There's not a 'normal' person among the main characters, yet they all ring true. And while I don't normally highlight passages on my Kindle (sorry, amazon; e-books are just clunkier that way), there were so many passages that struck me with their perceptiveness and wit that I took the time and effort to do so. This is a difficult novel to pigeon-hole, but if I had to, I'd say that this book reminds me most of Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time," another novel that also lingered with me long after I finished reading it.
This is Gavin Extence's first novel, and that utterance alone blinds me with optimism, because it leads me to hope that he might write other books even better in my lifetime. I look forward to reading them.
Most recent customer reviews
A stunning novel in everyway. From the characters, to the writing, to the storyline itself.Read more
A funny, easy to read but well written!!
Lovely watching the friendship of the two develop throughout the book !