The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin ExtenceThe Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

byGavin Extence

Paperback | January 14, 2014

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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 Woodsis a celebration of curious incidents, astronomy and astrology, the works of Kurt Vonnegut and the unexpected connections that form our world.
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 onl...
Title:The Universe Versus Alex WoodsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.25 inPublished:January 14, 2014Publisher:OrbitLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:031624659X

ISBN - 13:9780316246590


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Probably in my Top 5 This book is written very nicely and Alex is a lovable character. His relationship with Mr. Peterson is unlikely but charming. The romantic relationship that was written in the end seemed a bit forced, but it didn't really take away from the actual story. Well done and beautifully written
Date published: 2017-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THIS! heartwarming story, finished this in one day!
Date published: 2017-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Funny, heart warming and touching A boy gets hit by a meteorite and becomes best friends with a crotchety Vonnegut loving human rights activist. Lovely read! 4.25/5
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fun read I didn't know what this book is about, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a fun read and I really like Alex.
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Alex Wood Alex Wood is a great character which we can all relate to or know of someone similar. Great story and journey.
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For the young adults and old adults alike I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the topics that were addressed with such wit and integrity. Every single character was so believable and understood. The main character Alex is wise beyond his years and is as mature as he is adorable. A must read on your list.
Date published: 2016-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Universe Against Alex Woods What a mind bender of a book! I have learned so many things in this book that I had no idea of (tarot cars, epilepsy, secular churches, assisted suicide). The main characters had so much depth and the read was easy and compelling. Wow!!
Date published: 2015-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Journey with Alex into the Surreal And not so surreal. Examine with a young mind the universe, morality, the meaning of life and the afterlife. Meet Alex, hit by a meteorite and changed for life....Brilliant, epileptic and unusual. Not the average boy in school. A boy with no friends. Meet Mr Peterson, crotchety, real and true to himself and his beliefs. Unlikely friends, unlikely situation. The best of friends. And in the end, the only journey and situation that makes sense. Thank you, Gavin Extence, for a terrific read and a terrific ride. (I need to re-read Slaughterhouse Five.). And I did not want this book to end.
Date published: 2014-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Alex Woods is a great character – he’s a socially awkward tween who has to deal with bullies, his oddball mother and a goth girl-friend. He is also smart and funny, with a lot of courage and integrity. The story starts with Alex being stopped by the police, and as he tells his story we learn about his recovery from a freak accident and his unusual friendship with a war vet. There is humour and tragedy and through it all you cheer for Alex Woods.
Date published: 2014-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting read and page turner While this started a bit slow for me - I soon found myself sneaking every possible moment to read it. Loved it.
Date published: 2013-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought provoking and heart warming without being annoying, depressing or over the top. 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. I was proud of Alex and I wish he was a real person so I could hug him. The Universe Vs Alex Woods is one of those books that manages to be a great many things all at the same time. It’s thoughtful and intelligent – without being condescending. I hate when books purposely try to be clever but it all feels very natural here. This book is also compelling. You want to know what will happen to Alex and where is crazy life will take him next. And surpringly, given some of the subject matter, this book is funny. Gavin Extence’s voice is charming and refreshing and I’m really looking forward to reading more of his work. Recommendation: The Universe Vs Alex Woods was a book that really resonated with me. It is thought provoking and heart warming without being annoying, depressing or over the top. Highly recommended. This and other reviews at More Than Just Magic (
Date published: 2013-08-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I Was Looking for a Light Read. Didn't Find It Here. I bought this book because it was critically acclaimed, and has so many good reviews: "Funny," "Heart-warming," "Worth every penny!" Then I read it. It was terrible. I didn't laugh once, let alone smile or even chuckle. Also, the story isn't about a cross-continent trip taken by a naive young man and his wise, yet jaded elderly companion who teaches him the ways of the world. It's actually about death, culminating in an assisted suicide...enjoy :)
Date published: 2013-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delightfully unique and charming The Good Stuff Totally unique Sweet, clever and wonderfully endearing You will totally fall in love with Alex and his supporting cast of unique and and intriguing secondary characters Enjoyed the scenes between Alex and Dr Weir - loved the way she conversed with a 10 yr old boy Dark and witty humour Actually learned a lot while reading and it was done in such a simple and matter of a fact way and it made you want to learn more - yet never made you feel like you were stupid Perfect book for a book club discussion, so many fascinating discussions to be had - assisted suicide, mental illness, death penalty, meaning of life, religion and so much more This is one of the Indigo recommends titles at work, and usually I dislike anything that gets a label of any kind, but the description intrigued me, and glad I decided to pick it up - this will definitely be a title that I will be selling to the right customer You will have a sudden desire to read some Kurt Vonnegut - and no I have never read anything by him The relationships between the characters are the heart of the story. Alex himself is a delightful character, but its his relationships with the secondary characters that make this novel shine There is a Star Wars reference to explain asteroids - yes, I am that much of a geek Bang on analysis on the crime of being different Wise Ranks Librarians up with Neurologists and Astronomers - hell that is enough for me to buy the book Loved Alex's reasoning behind his decision to give his meteorite to the Natural History Museum - the analogy using his cat is positively brilliant and heart warming The Not so Good Stuff I wanted more Jumps around a wee bit and I found the first 20 pages a little off - but once you get past that its positively brilliant Do you have any idea how hard it was to choose only 3 quotes for this review - so I just gave up and gave you a few more examples why you have to pick up this book right away Favorite Quotes/Passages "Dr Enderby said that an epileptic seizure was like a thunderstorm taking place in the brain - a storm that temporarily knocks out all the communication links so that any messages from the outside world get either lost or scrambled. All that's left is your brain talking to itself." "Rest assured: by the time I was ten, I had managed to find out what my mother meant. She meant that as far as our family was concerned, only the cat had a s** life." "She doesn't think that God sounds like such a great boss. Not the way he's presented in the Bible, anyway. She thinks that if she'd been an angel, she'd probably have quit too." "Kid, I'm American. We've been suspicious of intellectuals for hundreds of years." "Yes, I see. Still, not all scars are bad, Alex. Some are worth hanging on too, if you understand what I mean." Who Should/Shoudn't Read This is the type of story that needs to be slowly savored not rushed through Not for those who need something fast pac For those who enjoy something just a little bit different 4.75 Dewey's I picked this up at Chapter's Shawnessy
Date published: 2013-07-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent read 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.
Date published: 2013-07-03

Editorial Reviews

"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