The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The Universe Versus Alex Woods review


I took the picture for this review with the book placed on the front of my car, because if I could I would buy about a million copies of this book to give away and put on the front of every car I saw. The Universe Versus Alex Woods is THAT good, you guys. Also, normally I post reviews in the order I tend to finish books. I have two other books I finished before this one that still need reviewing, but I’m doing this today instead. Just trying to get ya’ll to understand how much I completely loved this book. I also want to point you to Jasper Fforde’s blurb of praise on the cover – it’s right on point.

Because I think it sums the book up way better than I could, here’s the description from the book jacket:

The universe works in mysterious ways…

Alex Woods was struck by a meteorite when he was ten years old, leaving scars that marked him for an extraordinary life. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, he hasn’t had the most conventional childhood.

When he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count.

So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing…

Honestly, this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting. For some reason I had it in my head that Alex would have some sort of paranormal or physic gift as a result of his meteorite accident. That’s the not the case, but it was a good thing. This book was so much better than I could have expected.

Alex is a wonderful narrator. He’s a good kid, highly intelligent, but also hopelessly innocent. We see him deal with the results of being hit in the head my a meteorite when he’s 10, and all the way up through his adolescent years to when he’s 17. I loved his precise, logical way of looking at the world, and that he had a thirst for knowledge. Don’t think that if you’re older then you might not relate to this book because the narrator is so young – trust me, it’s perfect for everybody. Alex is extremely likable, no matter your age. And I loved the relationship he strikes up with Mr. Peterson.

Mr. Peterson is a grumpy old guy, which means that normally I probably wouldn’t like him much (seeing as I try to avoid old people, in general). But he’s grumpy in an awesome way, and his conversations with Alex in the early days of their friendship had me literally laughing out loud. Mr. Peterson is an old Vietnam vet with a love of Kurt Vonnegut novels, and he ended up being such a great friend to Alex. These are characters that are going to stay with me for a long time.

Their friendship is largely the focus of the novel, and I don’t want to go into details because that would ruin the experience for you. This is a BRILLIANT debut novel. Gavin Extence, if for some reason you’re ever reading this, I can’t wait to see what you write next. The Universe Versus Alex Woods completely sucked me in and I was sad when it was finished. It made me laugh out loud, and it made me cry. Not just tearing up – actual tears, with sniffles and everything.

I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this book. I seriously don’t know why it’s not all over bestseller lists right now. It was marvelous. In fact, I think that’s the first time I’ve used “marvelous” in a review. But I’m running out of ways to say “absolutelyfantasticandyouhavetoreaditnow”. Because really, you do. If you’re in a book club, you should suggest this for your next read – it’s perfect book club material. If you’re just a person looking for a book to read next (which come on, you know you are), it’s perfect book-to-read-next material.

Have I convinced you guys yet? I haven’t fangirled quite this hard in a long, long time. The Universe Verus Alex Woods is DEFINITELY going to be in my top ten for the year, if not for all time. 


Sarah Says: 5 stars, MAYBE EVEN 6. 




  1. I saw this in the bookstore’s bestseller list, but to be honest, the cover didn’t draw me! (I know I shouldn’t judge a book by the cover). But, after reading how enthusiastic you are about the book, I may just give it a shot! 🙂


    1. It’s SO worth the read. I can’t wait to buy my own copy – It’s the one downside of library books. I borrow them, read them, fall in love with them, and then don’t want to give them back :-/


  2. This is on my TBR now. And I’ll have you know that I had some friends looking for book recs and based on your fangirlish gushing, I suggested this book to them and one promptly went out and got it to read. 😉


  3. YESSSSSSSSSS. I knew this would be a good one! Right after we talked about it on twitter I got an e-mail from netgalley saying I had been approved (even though the book is already released..?) I’M NOT COMPLAINING. I’ve got a vacation starting this weekend and you can bet I’ll be spending some time with this book. I expect to be all starry-eyed and I’m sure there will be exclamation points and hearts galore in my review!


    1. I HOPE YOU LOVE IT. I need someone to love it as much as I did, so I know I’m not crazy, lol. But it was SO GOOD! SO many different things that I loved about Alex as a narrator and about the book as a whole that I couldn’t mention in my review without getting a bit spoiler-y.


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