Monday, December 2, 2013

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence


Hardback:  407 pages 
Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton 2013

Source: Tywyn Public Library 
First Sentence: They finally stopped me at Dover as I was trying to get back into the country.
Favourite Quote: 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and wisdom always to tell the difference' (Original quote by Reinhold Niebuhr. 1892–1971)
Review Quote: 'This funny, touching first novel... Extence unfolds his offbeat tale with skill but his real triumph lies in providing such a memorable voice' (Sunday Times)
Literary Award: Waterstones 11 - 2013 List
My Opinion:  Well written début novel from a young author that I suspect we will hear a lot more from in the years to come.

This was a Book-club choice and not a title I would have picked up otherwise. It was an interesting read but I cannot really say it was enjoyable, but only because I was unable to build a rapport with the protagonist Alex Woods  a teenage science nerd . However this is a very well written début novel from a young author that I suspect we will hear a lot more from in the years to come.  He has tackled the ethical issue which is a major theme of the novel in an extremely sensitive way. Although the story line was not to my taste it was still an emotional and thought provoking read.

Alex Woods is a strong willed teenager with a fascination for science and particularly astronomy, after being hit by a falling meteorite. The accident puts him in a coma from which he does recover but leaves him isolated from his own age group by his strange background. When he meets Mr Peterson a pot smoking Vietnam veteran, the unlikely pair become friends.  Alex learns via Mr Peterson's obsession with the author Kurt Vonnegut that we only get one shot at life so have to make the best choices along the way that we can.

I am not sure to whom one would particularly recommend this novel, but if you have read ' The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night' it may well appeal.

Gavin Extence on characters in the novel

Author Profile

Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in the interestingly named village of Swineshead, Lincolnshire. He now lives in Sheffield with his wife, young daughter and a cat. From the ages of 5-11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player and is still a keen player. He has a PhD in Film Studies, The Universe Versus Alex Woods is his début novel but he is already working on a second. Apparently when he is not writing he enjoys cooking, amateur astronomy and visiting Alton Towers theme park.

The information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing. 

The Serenity Prayer   Goodreads Author Profile    Amazon Author Profile    Kurt Vonnegut             YouTube - Gavin Extence                                                                                                           


  1. Lindy' I felt the same way. I've been reading lots of books aimed at YA . I wanted to like this, thought it was well written but I really didn't enjoy it.

    1. Hi Scarlet, lovely to hear from you. Interesting to know you felt the same as me about this one! :)

  2. Hey I loved that book you mentioned by Mark Haddon. I am sure I would have liked it this one too. You know, I was thinking the same, this book doesnt usually belong to your genre/choice :)

    I am leaving the link of my last blog post:

    You can subscribe/follow my posts by typing your email id in the right hand side column

    1. I will be interested to know your thoughts if you do read this one, yes not my normal genre but it was a bookclub choice. Thanks for the link to your post, I do not normally subscribe to posts by email as my inbox gets so full!


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