Saturday, April 6, 2013

ARC review: The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

Many thanks to Net Galley and Hachette books for the copy of this novel in exchange for and honest review.
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.
This insomniac's opinion:
This book is being buzzed about like mad right now, so when I saw it on Net Galley, I jumped at the chance to read it. Being a book that it talked about long before it's release is a double-edged sword though, isn't it? On one hand, the author likely sells more books because of the publicity and the buzz in the literary community. On the other hand, it is impossible to read one of these books without having your hopes set very high before the reader even begins the book. I'm afraid that with this book, my hopes were higher than the reality of the novel.
First, let me say that I do not believe this book should be marketed towards youth. Or, at least, not unless a parent has screened the book first. There is much talk about drugs, suicide and assisted euthanasia amongst other adult topics. I had initially planned to read this novel and pass it on to my son, but that will most definitely not be happening.
This seems to fall into the newly emerging category of having a protagonist who is a pre-teen/teen, thus is marketed to this age, but is really more appropriate for late teen/adult readers. As a mother, this frustrates me greatly. Let's just let our children be children for a wee bit longer, okay?
*Steps off soapbox*
Other than the aforementioned issues, however, this book is a mostly enjoyable read. Alex's character was lovely and his voice was distinct and unique. There was quite a bit happening in the book, and much of it was unbelievable. At the core of this novel is simply the relationships in our lives, some which seem most unlikely. The relationship between Alex and Mr. Peterson was a beautiful example of two very different people learning to love one another, differences and all.
Worth staying up all night to read?
I think so. It was an interesting read.
Rating: 3.5 stars



  1. Don't you hate it when a book gets so much attention and then you have soaring expectations and it lets you down in the end? Sigh, that happens quite a bit for me. I have yet to decide if I want to read this one. It sounds pretty interesting though. Thanks for the review!