Universe Versus Alex Woods (Extence)

The Universe Versus Alex Woods 
Gavin Extence, 2013
416 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780316246576

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. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Raised—Swineshead, Lincolnshire, UK
Education—Ph.D. in Film Studies
Awards—Waterstone 11 Literary Prize
Currently—lives in Sheffield, UK

Gavin Extence is a contemporary English writer. He won the Waterstones 11 literary prize for his first book The Universe Versus Alex Woods (2013). He has a PhD in Film studies, is married, has a daughter and is also a keen chess player.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is Extence's début novel and is the everyday tale of a teenage science nerd hit by a meteorite who strikes up a friendship with a pot-smoking Vietnam veteran. It is the story of wilful teenager Alex, who acquires a fascination with science and astronomy after being struck by a falling meteorite and going into a coma. After recovering, Alex forms an unusual friendship with an aged, dope-smoking Vietnam vet, the reclusive Mr. Peterson, who is a dedicated aficionado of Kurt Vonnegut. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 7/12/2013.)

Book Reviews
The Universe Versus Alex Woods will put you through the wringer. But oh, what a wringer!
NPR Books

With wit and warmth, Gavin Extence shines a light on one of the darkest, most difficult subjects of our times.
Sunday Express (UK)

When the material darkens towards the end, Extence skilfully manages to keep the narrative engaging and surprising. Mr Peterson, in particular, is a welcome antidote to those endless depictions of wise old men who know everything, being a spiky, contradictory figure raging against the dying of the light with impressive and stirring verve. After it finds its voice, this is a hugely enjoyable and even wise book, with plenty to say about life and death, and Vonnegut fans, in particular, will absolutely love it.
Observer (UK)

Perfectly crafted and beautifully written.... The Universe Versus Alex Woods may be a debut novel but it is an outstanding novel by any standards. Unforgettable.
Red (UK)

(Starred review.) Seventeen-year-old Alex Woods was a household name even before authorities discovered 113g of marijuana and the ashes of an old man in the car he drove across the English border. At the age of 10 Alex became a national celebrity after being hit by a meteorite.... Extence’s engaging coming-of-age debut skillfully balances light and dark, laughter and tears.
Publishers Weekly

Most teens think the universe is against them at some point. Seventeen-year-old Alex Woods has plenty of evidence for his case: a tarot-reading witch for a mother, his father a one-night Solstice stand long since forgotten, a chunk of meteorite crashing through the roof and smashing into him, the onset of epileptic seizures, and school bullies eager to target him.... Verdict: A bittersweet, cross-audience charmer, this debut novel will appeal to guys, YA readers, and Vonnegut and coming-of-age fiction fans. —Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC
Library Journal

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