Review Blog

Jun 20 2013

The universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

cover image

Hodder & Stoughton, 2013. ISBN 9781444764611.
(Ages: 15+) Highly recommended. This book tells the story of Alex Woods from the time he is ten until he is nearly eighteen and it is a truly extraordinary story.
At age ten Alex is hit by a meteorite and seriously injured. After spending a considerable time in hospital and therapy he is able to resume a somewhat normal life, hampered by the fact that he has epilepsy, a quite noticeable scar and a mother who is a clairvoyant. Being different, he is bullied at school and this leads to his meeting and subsequent friendship with the reclusive Mr Peterson, a widowed American Vietnam veteran. This proves to be a mutually rewarding friendship that evolves into Alex virtually becoming his carer as Mr Peterson's health deteriorates.
This is a wonderful story, Alex is very intelligent and pedantic but an exceptionally interesting character, as is Mr Peterson. The writing is assured and carries the story along to its satisfying conclusion. To reveal the ending would be doing a disservice.
I would highly recommend this book to upper secondary students as it deals with confronting issues sensitively but with humour and above all humanity.
David Rayner

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