A tale of an unexpected friendship, an unlikely hero, and an improbable journey, Alex's story treads the fine line between light and dark, laughter and tears. And it might just strike you as one of the funniest, most heartbreaking novels you've ever heard.
Alex Woods knows that he hasn't had the most conventional start in life. He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won't endear him to the local bullies. He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen - he's got the scars to prove it. What he doesn't know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he'll make an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make the best possible choices.
So when, aged 17, 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.…
©2013 Gavin Extence (P)2013 Hodder & Stoughton
"It's Mark Haddon meets Kurt Vonnegut" (Observer)
"An eccentric young protagonist meets his match in a compelling comic debut" (The Bookseller)
"One of the year's most anticipated debuts" (Time Out)
"The 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)
"One of the funniest and most heartbreaking double acts in ages...an exceptionally good debut novel 5*" (Heat)
"With wit and warmth, Gavin Extence shines a light on one of the darkest, most difficult subjects of our times." (Sunday Express)
"Extence's sad but funny novel was the subject of fierce bidding wars between publishers last year and early reviews pit it as a certain star read of 2013." (Stylist)
"A comic tale of friendship and the nitty gritty of life" (Shortlist)
"Alex’s story treads the fine line between light and dark, laughter and tears" (GQ)
"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 Universe vs Alex Woods may be a debut novel but it is an outstanding novel by any standards. Unforgettable." (Red)
"Fans of quirky tales will love this debut novel" (Bella)
"This 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 naiveté that's as quirky as his upbringing" (The Bookbag)
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"Grows on you!"
I am glad I persevered with this listen because the reader irritated the hell out of me for a few hours. Then when Mr Peterson came into the story, it came alive and for once, a book actually improved as it went on. Offbeat, thoughtful, funny and touching. If you like this, you should love the Rosie Project by Graham Simsion - now that gets all my stars!
"A really fun, quirky book!"
I listened to this in the car over a period of a couple of weeks and couldn't wait
to hear the next bit every time I got in the car! It isn't the sort of book I would normally read but I really enjoyed it and it was very well read.
This book is very odd indeed, but utterly captivating - it is funny and sad and fascinating all at the same time. Joe Thomas's narration is beautifully paced, with excellent distinction between the characters. You can imagine and see them so clearly through Joe's voice. The characters and their behaviours are vivid and well drawn - we feel such compassion for them. I had not expected it to be so entertaining, as it was dealing with serious themes as diverse as atomic physics, neuroscience, belief, morality, literature, maths, youth, age, death and logic. It is very stimulating - moving, entertaining and laugh aloud funny and just so interesting. I didn't want this book to end. Exquisitely written and read. Thank you Gavin Extence and Joe Thomas.
"Everything you would want in a book."
A great story, some humour and some poignant moments, a truly excellent book, so engrossing I played it from beginning to end in in one weekend.
I heard the free first chapter, was hooked straight away and knew I wanted to get the whole book. The narrator is perfect for this story. So, if you like the sample, please go ahead and get the whole download. I loved the way that the reader is introduced to events but then is made to wait much later for the author to return to strands. It becomes serious along the way and I hadn't guessed where the story was going to go.... but don't worry, the mood remains the same.
"Improbable tale wonderfully told"
This was great to listen to - the story is somewhat improbable, but with just enough credibility to draw you in - and to keep you engrossed. Joe Thomas is an excellent narrator and this work from Gavin Extence augurs well for the future.
"Fantastic book - a must have!"
I loved this audiobook immediately. A quirky story, with brilliant characters, narrated expertly by Joe Thomas. I couldn't stop listening and it had both funny and moving moments in it. Can't wait for the next book by Gavin Extence.
"A must read"
A wonderfully strange and moving book, it took me a while to get used to the character's voice, but then it made total sense and I did not want to stop listening. A very moving experience.
What a fantastic story made even better by the fantastic narrator - one I will listen to again, have recommended it to my friends.
"Funny & Sad - definitely worth a listen."
A story with a difference! This was both sad and funny - something that I haven't found in many books!
Exploring a controversial subject this is a great book and will make you think on many different levels! Would recommend it!
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