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The Universe Versus Alex Woods Hardcover – Jun 25 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Redhook (June 25 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316246573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316246576
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #271,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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."― (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

About the Author

Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in the interestingly named village of Swineshead, England. From the ages of 5-11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player, winning numerous national championships and travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg to pit his wits against the finest young minds in Russia. He won only one game.

Gavin now lives in Sheffield with his wife, baby daughter and cat. He is currently working on his second novel. When he is not writing, he enjoys cooking, amateur astronomy and going to Alton Towers.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You know when you watch an episode of The Simpsons and it starts out in one place and ends up in a completely different one? But you don’t even realize how far off course you went until it’s all over? That’s kind of what this book is like.

The Universe versus Alex Woods, is, unsurprisingly, about a young man named Alex Woods – a boy who was never meant to have a regular life. Hit on the head by a falling meterorite at ten years old he becomes a bit of an outcast at school and befriends Mr Peterson, a old American Vietnam war veteran in his neighbourhood. That alone would make an interesting novel in my opnion, but this book takes things a bit further when it introduces Kurt Vonnegut to the mix.

Unlike Mr Peterson, who loves Vonnegut’s work, I have never been a huge fan. I’ve read a few of his books and well I think they’re well written I didn’t see why people LOVED them. But during The Universe vs Alex Woods, we follow Alex’s discovery of the books and the book club he forms as a result and I found myself wanting to read all of Vonnegut’s books. Especially ones I hadn’t heard of before – like the Sirens of Titan and Timequake. Alex’s enthusiasm about these books and the conversations the book club have made me excited to give Vonnegut’s writing another shot. I love when a book gets me excited about reading even more.

And then if that wasn’t enough this book switches trajectory once again. I don’t want to reveal to much about what happens next but this book addresses a pretty important and serious political and social debate. It’s a fantastic look at humanity, dignity and a person’s right to agency over their own body. And though the book ended on a sad note, it was also – in my opinion – the appropriate one.
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Format: Hardcover
Ever felt underestimated?

Alex Woods was hit by a meteorite -- scarred for life and prone to epilepsy attacks -- but his wit and outstanding intelligence remained unscathed. Try telling people that. Poor Alex had no friends until he met Mr. Peterson. The only man to glance at him without pity and treat him like an average teen. So how could Alex, at seventeen, be found with Mr. Peterson's car, a bag full of pot and an urn full of ashes. What exactly did Mr. Peterson teach him?

To refer to this book as Gavin Extence's debut novel feels preposterous. His writing is beyond amateur level which explains why he's been getting so much praise. Not only did he tackle bullying, mother/teen relationships, overcoming shyness around girls; he also discussed euthanasia and faith in the unknown. He did it without being preachy. He did it with class. Teaching us new words, and how to dissect Kurt Vonnegut's novels along the way.

Instead of giving us a perfect Alex Woods, Extence also allowed us to see his bad side. Teenagers don't always appreciate what their mothers do for them. A lot can be learned from adults at that age if we learn to communicate, and this book is a fair example.
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Format: Hardcover
Alex Woods was struck by a meteor when he was ten years old and survived, though he was left with a scar. He was already different from most of the kids in his school, having a love of reading, a mother who's a fortune teller, no father, but with the after effects of the meteor, he finds himself a favorite target of bullies. After one run-in with a group of bullies, Alex ends up meeting Isaac Peterson, a widower who was injured in Vietnam and they start an unlikely but touching friendship.

The book starts when Alex is seventeen and the opening chapter goes right for the attention-grabbing moment with Alex being caught at the border with 113 grams of marijuana. After that, he begins retelling his story and the events that led him to this point. He starts when he's ten and with the meteor and it goes from there.

I found myself really enjoying the characters in this book. Given his circumstances, Alex's reactions to the things that happen make sense and he tells a story the way a real person might, with some side-tracking and rambling. Isaac Peterson's growth from being alone to having a friendship with a kid who has no paternal figure is touching.

The basic plot of Alex dealing with his life after being hit by the meteor, his friendship with Mr Peterson and all the events that lead up to what happened in the first chapter was good and what kept me reading because I wanted to see how everything turned out. There was, though, a lot of addition of facts, trivia, and long explanations that gave the book a non-fiction feel at times and seemed unnecessary. The book's over 400 pages but probably could have been around 300 or a little more without all the added facts.

* I was provided an arc of this book by the publisher for an honest review
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have nothing unique to say next to the others who took to write a review - it is a fantastic story and I was sad to reach the end!

The characters are all likeable! The story was at no point dull or drawn on and on! It was captivating from start to finish!

Anyone who takes the time to read this story will not feel it is time wasted at all!

I envy those of you looking to these reviews to decide if this book is for you...because you haven't read it yet. Read it! Read it! Read it!

Absolutely a thought provoking, interesting, scientifically informative read.

Bravo Mr. Gavin Extence. You should be proud:)
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