The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

Synopsis

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.

Review

It took me a while to read this book — it never hooked me or caught my attention. It was more of a slow burn, a book I had to take time to read and digest.

This book was incredibly quirky. Alex Woods had a really interesting life, and was such a naive but unique individual. The way the story read was very reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Alex Woods was similar in character to Charlie, but with completely different life experiences which shaped him. Funnily enough, when I first read the synopsis for Perks, I thought that the “seniors” Charlie befriended (and subsequently exposed him to life) were actual 65+ seniors rather than high school seniors. If that was actually what Perks was about, then the resulting book would have been The Universe Versus Alex Woods.

I found it intriguing how many different details were woven into Alex Woods’s life. Unlikely phenomena like the meteor, astrophysics, his mother’s tarot card shop, epilepsy, a Kurt Vonnegut book club, the Vietnam War, assisted suicide, cannabis use, schoolyard bullying (especially pertaining to homosexuality) and so forth could have easily made stories all on their own. I’m glad these elements were all put together though, because they helped create a scenario that questioned morality when things aren’t so black-and-white. It discussed serious issues in a matter-of-fact way, both tactfully and artfully.

Somehow though, this book didn’t enthrall me. I enjoyed reading it, though. I laughed out loud in parts, smiled in others, and felt emotional throughout. There were some wonderful quotations in this book. I’m glad I read The Universe Versus Alex Woods,and I believe it is a book that people SHOULD read… but for reasons I cannot explain, I finished it wishing there was more to the story.

Related Reading

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky (the resemblance is uncanny)
  • The Fault in Our Stars – John Green (or other John Green books, for that matter — take the nerdy, awkward and analytical protagonist and combine it with terminal illness and you get this book)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut (a rather integral part of the story)
  • Catch-22 – Joseph Heller (also relevant to this book)
  • New Girl (not a book, but a tv series which relates because of the incredible quirkiness of Alex Woods)

Rating: 4/5

 

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