My Latest Reads

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The hero of this book, the Alex Woods of the title, suffers brain damage at the age of ten when a meteorite bursts through the roof of the house he shares with his clairvoyant single mother. I mean, could there really be a more unlikely back story than that? 


Author Gavin Extence’s first novel is reminiscent in some ways of The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time in the unpredictability of its hero and his outlook on the world. It’s the tale of the unlikely friendship between Alex and the reclusive Mr Peterson, the bonds they cement through the establishment of a somewhat specialist Book Group and a momentous life and death decision the boy has to make for his friend. 


Alex is hugely likeable, particularly in his approach to the calamity which befell him at such a young age - which he sees as forming the person he is. Without the meteorite, he ponders, he would be a completely different character because his brain would function differently. Despite the   epileptic fits, the bullying he encounters, he steadfastly continues to believe that the meteorite strike has changed his life for the better.


I loved the first meeting between Alex and Mr Peterson - Alex is hiding in the old man’s shed from the school bullies pursuing him when he sees a silhouette in the doorway: “It was a man. There was a man looming in the doorway and he was pointing at me with a stick - a long, cylindrical stick. It gleamed dully in the darkness. My heart jumped into my mouth. The man was pointing a gun at me.” So ends Chapter 7. Chapter 8 sets the record straight:


“The gun resolved itself into what it had been all along. Three feet of lightweight aluminium, grey plastic handle. A crutch.” 


As Alex muses: “Fear distorts the world. Fear sees demons where only shadows dwell. This was the lesson I’d eventually learn.”


The book is full of such unexpected encounters, some funny, some tragic - Alex battles the Universe and somehow emerges to tell the tale and the lessons learned in his own inimitable way. 


Definitely a recommended read.

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Latest comments

28.12 | 07:41

This wonderful blog has summed up the true meaning of A Christmas Day. Once the dread of a restricted day had sunk in, other ways were invented. Thank you

22.12 | 09:20

So sorry to hear that Brian is in hospital. It would be bad at any time but at present....... It must be true agony for you. You'll both be in my thoughts. xx

22.08 | 02:02


I'll be able to help you with information on the usher's as Thomas Henry Usher is my aunt's ancestor as well can you please email me so we can talk

22.08 | 02:00

Hi Karen,

I thought I would try again to see if I can get a response from you again please email me so we can talk further. My email is:

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