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The Universe Versus Alex Woods

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  18,991 ratings  ·  2,288 reviews
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 you only get one shot at life. That
Hardcover, 407 pages
Published June 25th 2013 by Redhook (first published 2013)
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Nicole Hi Jenet, my copy actually has some discussion questions at the back (I am not entirely sure where it is, I have so many books!). Perhaps pick up a…moreHi Jenet, my copy actually has some discussion questions at the back (I am not entirely sure where it is, I have so many books!). Perhaps pick up a copy and flick to the back to see if it has them too :)(less)

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Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alex Woods - I love him...he's amazing! Zijn semi-wetenschappelijke uitwijdingen...zijn Sheldon-achtige trekjes en zijn humor.
Het verhaal is briljant...het is ontroerend, hartverwarmend...het heeft diepgang en humor. Gavin Extence beschrijft de zieleroerselen van Alex op een integere en bijzondere wijze, vol respect en met humor. De relatie tussen hem en meneer Peterson krijgt een extra dimensie, wanneer hij meneer Peterson bijstaat bij zijn zelfdoding(euthanasie). Een omstreden thema, dat door
Wow. I laughed. I cried. I laughed while I cried. What a quirky, beautiful, funny, heartbreaking and overall incredibly touching book.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes, life just lines up in a way that seems like it isn't just a coincidence. Like this:

I'm teaching Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five this fall, so I re-read the book last week. Then, Gaiman's new book was released, and I read that one. I signed into Goodreads to review The Ocean at the End of the Lane (which was really good) and saw Gaiman's recommendation for The Universe Versus Alex Woods. I bought the book without reading more about it because I needed something to read on vacation, and
Erin Laidley
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
The best description that I can think of for this book is that it reminded me of "a mixture of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Up, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and The Fault in Our Stars." While that may seem like a strange combination, elements from all of these works are seamlessly combined to create a humorous, poignant novel that will leave a lasting impression.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is written as a first person retrospective narrative in the style of Kurt
Ecmel Soylu
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okuduğum en ilginç kitaplardan biriydi. Üzücü bir komikliği vardı diyebilirim sanırım. Aslında kitabın geneli kocaman bir şaka gibiydi :') Beğendim, sıkılmadan iki-üç oturuşta bitirdim kitabı.

Bu kitabı herkese öneremem ama. Eğer aşk, romantizm gibi ögelerin fazla olmadığı kitapları okumayı sevmiyorsanız okumanızı tavsiye etmem çünkü yok denecek kadar azdı. Kitabın yazarının büyük bir bilim aşığı olduğu çok açık. Ben bahsettiği konulara (Nöroloji, astronomi gibi) ilgi duyduğum için zevkle okudum
Fiona Robson
May 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
“A tale of an unexpected friendship, an unlikely hero and an improbable journey...This novel might just strike you as one of the funniest, most heartbreaking novels you've ever read. This is the story of seventeen-year-old Alex Woods - born to a clairvoyant mother and a phantom father, victim of an improbable childhood accident - who is stopped at Dover customs in possession of 113 grams of marijuana and the ashes of his best friend, Vietnam veteran Isaac Peterson. What follows is a highly origi ...more
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Oh, wow. The Universe Versus Alex Woods starts off seeming like it's gonna be a quirky sort of book: the narration is matter of fact where it possibly shouldn't be, and the situation Alex is in on the opening pages is an interesting one. Unfortunately for everyone who picked it up on the basis of that, it's not really the kind of book it turned out to be. I don't know that I'd call it funny -- it's not laugh out loud funny, anyway; more "wry smiles" funny -- and I don't know that I'd call it hea ...more

It all started with a drive, thirteen grams of marijuana and an urn of ashes. This is the story of Alex Woods from the age of 10 to 17. Alex is one unique and complex character. His life was shattered into a new realm when at age 10 a meteor crashed through his bathroom ceiling and hit him on the head. He lives with his mother a tarot card reader and is receptive to more than most. She doesn't try to fit in and her beliefs are not mainstream. He is already seen as different in his community. Aft
Jun 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
In life, there are no true beginnings or endings. Events flow into each other, and the more you try to isolate them in a container, the more they spill over the sides, like canal-water breaching its artificial banks.

This was a very sweet coming of age novel. I enjoyed learning about meteors, tarot cards, epilepsy and Vonnegut. If you enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I highly recommend this. My critisism is that I found Alex to be a bit one-dimensional. I realize that at sixteen you are m
Maya Panika
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The tale of Alex Woods, age 17, as told by himself, in a steady, logical, borderline-autistic voice.

Struck on the head by a meteorite when he was a child, Alex lives a quietly extraordinary life. An epileptic, obsessed by maths, astronomy and Kurt Vonnegut, Alex is a deeply geeky, lonely boy with few friends but a complex inner life. The story is rich in references - His Dark Materials, A Prayer for Owen Meany, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Catch 22, Schubert - but most of all, Kurt Vonnegut,
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-favorites
What a sweet book. It's about a boy from a small town in England who is odd and a loner, but also very smart and likeable. He rather reminds me of the autistic kid in Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend - or the main character of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - but more social and less autistic - but he seems like he's on the spectrum or at least a kid with some quirks. Toward the middle of the book, I start seeing similarities to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. BTW, if you h ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng, 2016, trad
Daqueles livros sem um plot definido mas com personagens fantásticas.

A personagem principal é o Alex que aos 10 anos é ati gido por um pequeno meteorito enquanto estava em casa. Apesar do livro não começar assim, começar logo no meio da história, este é o ponto principal do livro e é a partir deste acontecimento que tudo de desenrola. Embora este acidente tenha deixado sequelas na saúde de Alex, o jovem não se deixa abalar e mantêm-se fascinado pela astronomia e astrologia ao ponto de querer
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, read-2013
The book starts out with Alex being arrested for having a stash of pot, cash and Mr Peterson's remains in his car. I thought..okay so this is going to be one weird book. Then Alex Woods tells his story.
The story involved is Alex from age 10 until 17. Alex is such a fresh, vibrant voice. I LOVED his character. He is smart, questions lifes mystery's and is somewhat brain damaged from a rogue comet that hit him in the head.
This book just kept suprising me. It makes you wonder how far would you go
Aziza Zeilenzauber
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Nahegehend, wichtig, wortgewaltig!

Ein wundervolles Buch mit unfassbar liebenswürdigen Charakteren, die einen noch eine ganze Weile verfolgen. Ein wichtiges Thema, mit dem man sich sicher mal in seinem Leben auseinandergesetzt haben sollte und all das verpackt in einen humorvollen, nahegehenden Schreibstil. Eine klare Empfehlung von mir.

Good job Mr. Garvin Extence!👍
Tomáš Fojtik
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Od první chvíle jsem si uvědomoval, že po dočtení té knihy mi bude smutno. Je to další z knih, u kterých víte, jak dopadne. Příběh tedy není o tom, co se stane, ale jak se to stane. Meteorit, který zasáhne Alexe Woodse a dílem této nehody dostane epilepsii je spouštěč řady více či méně bizarních událostí. Alex Woods se začne zajímat o neurologii a astrofyziku (aby ne, když na vás sletí meteorit a praští do hlavy) a brzy se seznámí s panem Petersonem, válečným veteránem a podivínem. Spřátelí se a ...more
So near perfect a read I can't think of any reason not to give it 5 stars. Straight to my favourites list.

I thought Alex such a wonderfully engaging, fascinating character. When I started reading the novel I thought it was headed along similar lines to Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, or maybe The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, both of whom have quirky individuals as narrators, but it quickly became its own story, delightful and charming and entirely unique.
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
This review is also on my blog:

When a book opens with a seventeen year old protagonist beings stopped at Dover customs in the middle of what seems to be a nervous breakdown, with a large bag of marijuana and an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, you know there’s going to be some pretty interesting explanations coming up.

The Universe vs Alex Woods tells the story of Alex who, as a ten year old, was hit on the head by a tiny meteorite. This fantastically improbabl
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I fell heavily for this book. In turn funny, heartwarming, clever and tearjerking, it's an absolute delight from its immediately engaging start through to its finish. It's about (and narrated by) Alex Woods, a quirky, bookish, misfit teen who has suffered from epilepsy since he was hit by a meteor at the age of 10. He befriends an older man, Mr Peterson, and among other things, they bond over a love of Kurt Vonnegut novels. We know from the opening paragraph that Mr Peterson will die, but the bo ...more
Elly Sands
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'll never find the right words to express how I felt about this book other than "I LOVED IT"! The author must be very sensitive and aware of the human condition. This story of a young boy being hit on the head by a meteorite and his ensuing experience is so imaginative, creative, clever, funny,poignant, full of questioning morality, science, love, dedication, quirky characters and twisting plot makes for a very compelling and can't put down read. I fell in love with the young boy as well as the ...more
Marie the Librarian
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I adored Alex. Hes such a smart kid. I love his insight and curiosity. MORE PEOPLE LIKE ALEX. And Mr. Peterson. And their friendship. its just precious. This book gave me Extremely loud and incredibly close vibes. Something about the atmosphere. I loved this book. So much. And such an important theme.
Well, here's the thing, if a book has:

*An introverted bookworm epileptic who loves learning about math, physics, astronomy, and who openly admits that his hobbies are definitely "gay" (in the high school context)
*Unexpected friendships
*Classical music
*Book discussions
*A dog
*Questions about Life and Death and the Universe

I am bound to want to pick it up. Especially with that kind of synopsis. It's one of those few synopses that are spot on. I am all about curious incidents and unexpected connecti
N.E. David
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first met Gavin Extence at a booklaunch in Waterstones in York. He attracted quite a following and I naturally wondered why. I met him again a few months later at Wakefield Literary Festival. Another following. This time I discovered that he is not only a remarkably nice young man but that he has also written a remarkably good book. No wonder he's popular.
His followers are predominantly women. That's no surprise in literary circles as the vast majority of readers are female, a fact prospective
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A five star read with my bookclub at GR, a special thanks to them for choosing another fantastic book, that I would not have picked up myself.

On the cover - I love the cover - is written

A tale of an unlikely friendship
This summary is from Goodreads

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 curmu
It's always great when you read a book that you have been wanting to read for a long time, that you have high expectations for, that has been rated highly by your GR friends, to actually be a 5 star read. It's even greater to read a book that you have no expectations of, hardly heard about before you started reading it, and has no indication of greatness based on your friends ratings because no one has read it, and to find out that that book is worth 5 stars.

What a wonderful story. Alex is one
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chris by: Kats
Shelves: 2016-reads, uk-reads
It took me a while to get into this (like more than 100 page), but stuck with it based on the fact it was recommended to me (hi Kats!), and it has a 4+ rating on GR. And I'm glad I did. I spent more than a year looking for it in new and used bookstores and finally (finally!) found it, of course, at The Strand.

I don't think I've ever met a character like Alex in literature before. This was a fun and heartbreaking read. I think it might be categorized as young adult, given Alex is a teen, but thi
После зверских убийств только и читать, что нежный янг-эдалт про мальчика, которому прилетел в голову метеорит, а вместе с ним и эпилепсия, но он ещё не главный больной в этой книжке.
Если коротко, это добрая и слегка поучительная история про взаимовыручку и дружбу тихого гика и угрюмого ветерана Вьетнама, объединённых книгами Курта Воннегута. Ain't we all love a good book.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: notebooks, tbp-2017
Mein einziges großes Problem ist, dass das Buch stellenweise etwas schwierig zu lesen und kein Buch für Zwischendurch ist, ich es aber trotzdem hauptsächlich zwischendurch gelesen habe. Mega tolles, wichtiges, tiefgehendes Buch ♥
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an unexpectedly good book. Trouble is now i'm going to have to read Vonnegut and Nietzsche!
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Hodder & Stoughton through Nudge.

“Full explanations are much messier. They can’t be conveyed in five unprepared stop-start minutes. You have to give them time and space to unfold. (…) I’m going to tell you my story, the full story, in the manner I think it should be told.”

Alex Wood is not your average teenager. He didn’t have a conventional start to his life. With a clairvoyant mother who doesn’t know who his father is his life was always going to be a little bit di
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Posted first on Blog critics

Every now and then a book comes along that takes you in directions that are unexpected. When differing backgrounds collide we are often surprised at the outcome. Such is the experience of reading The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence.

Alex Woods lives in an oddly disjointed world. His mother is a bit different than other mothers, and he doesn’t know his dad. He also has the distinction of having been struck by a meteor when he was 10 years old. This added to
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Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in the interestingly named village of Swineshead, Lincolnshire. From the ages of 5-11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player, winning numerous national championships and travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg to pit his wits against the finest young minds in Russia. He won only one game.

Gavin is currently working on his second novel.
“If you had to relive your life exactly as it was – same successes and failures, same happiness, same miseries, same mixture of comedy and tragedy – would you want to? Was it worth it?” 87 likes
“When I read these books, I no longer felt like I was confined to a very tiny world. I no longer felt housebound and bedbound. Really, I told myself, I was just brainbound. And this was not such a sorry state of affairs. My brain, with a little help from other people's brains, could take me to some pretty interesting places, and create all kinds of wonderful things. Despite its faults, my brain, I decided, was not the worst place in the world to be.” 86 likes
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