Book Review: The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence


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.

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 … 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.

My Thoughts:

Alex Woods is a logical science geek, with ADD tendencies, who is blind to the intricacies of human interaction to the point where I wondered if he had Aspergers. This makes for quite a humorous and touching novel.

It was great to read such a powerful YA title that was set for the most part in the UK. I spend so much time reading US literature that to have a frames of reference in a book that I understand first hand was a true pleasure. The cover, with Glastonbury Tor on the front is gorgeous – although Alex never actually walks up there…

I guess if I had to pick one thing I disliked about this book it was some of the earlier ‘tangents’ Alex went off on when talking about science – I found myself skim reading those. I liked this novel best when all the many unique characters in Alex’s life were on stage.

I’m not sure I’d give this to anyone younger than fourteen. There’s lots of swearing (I loved Ellie, but she did have a filthy mouth!) and themes that are quite dark in nature – although Alex’s narration cushions the blow of most of these. He’s just too darn entertaining.

Rating: ☼☼☼☼

Sales Pitch: Ever feel like your life was just one misfortunate accident slathered in improbability after another? Alex can relate – but his life will make yours look like its a reasonable approximation of normal.

10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

  1. Whoa, this has a lot going on. Alex must be hopping from one place to the other. And what is it with the urn on the front seat? It looks like I need to pick this one up. I read mostly middle grade novels and do not get much into YA (I review middle grade). This might be a nice break. Thanks for the interesting review.

  2. I also have this for review (: I started reading it a couple weeks ago, but I had to put it on hold for my finals. The beginning feels like a slow start, so I was feeling disappointment over that. Although the book overall seems to be receiving largely positive reviews, and I can’t wait to read further into the story. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I have never seen this before but it looks interesting. I’ll probs check this one out on GR in a sec. I’m younger than 14 so I may have to hold this one off for a bit. (Just 3 months!)

    Lovely review <33

  4. This sounds completely kooky, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Sounds like you thought it was a really good thing. Might be one I pick up for my teenager or if it’s available on audio, maybe for our upcoming long drive.

  5. Pingback: DNF: The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence - The Overstuffed Bookcase

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