Friday, June 7, 2013

Gavin Extence's "The Universe Versus Alex Woods"

I received a digital ARC of this book, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, from NetGalley. I chose it because of the title and, of course, the cover - two of my favorite colors are blue and green - the sky and plants. 

From Goodreads:

A rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was ten years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn't had the easiest childhood. But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the front seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he's fairly sure he's done the right thing ...Introducing a bright young voice destined to charm the world, The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a celebration of curious incidents, astronomy and astrology, the works of Kurt Vonnegut and the unexpected connections that form our world. 

Within the first few pages I knew I'd managed to unknowingly request a fabulously written book. Gavin Extence has an amazing way with words, and it was really hard for me to only pick a few quotes from the book. Also, there are some awesomely different British spellings that I've never seen before, like "manoeuvre" instead of "maneuver." 

Alexander Morgan Woods, Alex, is hit in the head with a meteorite when he was  10 years old. Because of this, Alex developed epilepsy, and was subjected to a lot of seizures. Because of this, he spent a lot of time at home (reading science books, mostly).

"My world had become very small, and it stayed like that for a long, long time."

For several reasons, Alex was bullied. There's a great section of the book on the differences that people are bullied for. 

Eventually he meets Isaac Peterson, the cranky war veteran from America (I admit that I thought about Dawson meeting the cranky old Hollywood director). Through Mr. Peterson, Alex discovers Kurt Vonnegut's works (I've never read Vonnegut, I know, I'm sorry).

"When I read these books I no longer felt like I was confined to a very tiny world."

The book follows Alex and Mr. Peterson as they get to know each other, and as they grow and mature (it starts when Alex is 10 and ends when he is 18). There is a lot of science in this book so know that when you decide whether or not to read this book. It manages to stay fairly interesting, even in the very science-y parts. It's not very kissy at all. While this is very different than what I usually read, I probably needed a little break from all the supernatural/contemporary/sci-fi teen drama :D 

Two more excellent quotes:

"Fear distorts the world. Fear sees demons where only shadows dwell."

"In the long history of common affairs, common sense doesn't have the greatest track record."


  1. It does sound good! I like the quotes too. One thing though... how can one ever get enough "supernatural/contemporary/sci-fi teen drama"?

  2. Well you know sometimes you start a book, it's not right, you grab another. Rinse, repeat. You need things to break them up!

  3. I completely forgot when I left an earlier comment that you had read this book! This is the one I had to stop reading because of all the seizures! It was making me super anxious and I decided it wasn't worth reading if I was going to get so panicked. But I did think it was interesting, so maybe one day I'll be able to go back and finish it. Great review!