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The Universe Versus Alex Woods. by Gavin Extence


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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.

About the Author

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. When he is not writing, he enjoys cooking, amateur astronomy and going to Alton Towers.


This is a story that will have you smiling through your tears, a story that touches on the most potentially devastating of human dilemmas, without an ounce of sentimentality. It is also enormously uplifting. Perfectly crafted and beautifully written, the voice of this novel is true and clear and brings to life the human condition with insight, tenderness and humour. Which is to say the quality of style matches the quality of content. The Universe versus Alex Woods may be a debut novel but it is an outstanding novel by any standards. Unforgettable. - RedIt's Mark Haddon meets Kurt Vonnegut - ObserverAn eccentric young protagonist meets his match in a compelling comic debut - The BooksellerOne of the year's most anticipated debuts - Time OutOne of the funniest and most heartbreaking double acts in ages . . . an exceptionally good debut novel 5* - HeatFans of quirky tales will love this debut novel - BellaThis is an extraordinary debut novel. For me, Gavin Extence has produced in his narrator and hero Alex one of the most intriguing literary young people since Mark Haddon's Christopher. He's reminiscent of a better behaved Just William as an 11-year-old, combining a hyper-intelligence with naivet? that's as quirky as his upbringing - The BookbagThe debate around assisted suicide is eternally controversial but, when it comes to an argument for allowing sick people of mind the right to die, The Universe Versus Alex Woods trumps any Dignitas spokesman . . . Where this novel shines is in its characterisation: the brittle outer layers of socially awkward people are unpeeled to reveal big hearts and raw emotions. The sparring between Alex and Mr Peterson is a joy to read . . . With wit and warmth, Gavin Extence shines a light on one of the darkest, most difficult subjects of our time. - Sunday Express

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. In his teenage years he was most comfortable with adults like his doctors and Isaac Peterson, an irascible, reclusive, pot-smoking American widower who lives nearby in Alex's small village; Alex's only teenage friend is an emo goth girl named Ellie. Alex's naivete, bookishness, and oddness make him a target for bullies and his earnest response to one instance of abuse only solidifies his reputation. His mother's self-proclaimed powers of clairvoyance don't help Alex's rep, nor does the epilepsy he acquired after the accident. Peterson encourages Alex to read Vonnegut, prompting Alex to create a book club called the Secular Church of Kurt Vonnegut, giving Alex a leadership position that brings him the confidence he needs to help navigate his neighbor's lengthy illness, albeit with major missteps along the way. Extence's engaging coming-of-age debut skillfully balances light and dark, laughter and tears. Agent: Alice Howe, Hodder & Stoughton (U.K.). (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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. Luckily for Alex, the meteorite and bullies have an upside. While the meteorite accident introduces him to two unusual doctors and the worlds of astrophysics and neurology, the school bullies chase him into a life-changing friendship with the semi-reclusive Mr. Peterson after Alex takes the blame for Mr. Peterson's broken greenhouse windows. Rather than revealing the bullies' names, Alex accepts a punishment of helping out the curmudgeonly widower. Neither is very happy about the arrangement until they bond over books and Alex founds the Secular Church of Kurt Vonnegut reading group. Over the course of a year, they also come to terms with a terminal diagnosis. Their plans for a simple trip to a Zurich clinic turn into a wild wheelchair ride through a hospital, an unexpected kiss, and international media attention. Not your average rite of passage but one Alex can ace. 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 (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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