The Universe Versus Alex Woods - Gavin Extence

This is one of those books you read where you are torn between wanting to know how everything falls into place; but not really wanting the book to end. Alex Woods is such a unique character, part victim of unbelievable circumstance (he was hit by a meteor when he was ten), and part naïve and wonderful genius. He is at the same time socially awkward and yet amazingly adept; clumsy in speech, but strong in conviction. While I would have liked a little more information on some of the other characters in the story (his mom, his friend Ellie), the two main characters of this story – Alex and Mr. Peterson – are completely realized. Their friendship, owed in part to Kurt Vonnegut, is one based on compassion and caring.


This is a YA title, so there are some pretty heavy topics here, including suicide, mental illness, epilepsy and some explicit discussion about growing marijuana. But these are merely blips in the road as we watch Alex become a man, and I don’t mean this in a glib or patronizing way. Alex is a kid who has been dealt more than his fair share of crazy, and the fact that he remains kind and true despite this is a wonder. Alex is the quintessential quirky kid, and I think his journey brings a new definition of hero for all of us.