Title: Universe Versus Alex Woods
Authors: Extence, Gavin
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 408
Year: 2013
Language: English
Description: In Alex Wood's short life, there have been two major life-altering events, and it's hard to say which will have the most effect: being hit on the head by a meteorite when he was ten, or, as a teenager, meeting his elderly reclusive neighbour Isaac Peterson while trying to evade the latest crop of school bullies. The unlikely friendship that develops gives Alex the sounding board he needs to sort out his philosophy on life ... and death. Astrophysics and neurology feature in this reckoning, as do God, Kurt Vonnegut and the vexed issue of assisted suicide.

This warm and engaging story is rich with humour, moral conflicts and intriguing characters tackling the important things of life ... and death.

Comments from Groups:

Our group enjoyed this read - a sweet coming of age novel. However, at its core there is a serious topic which was great for discussion. Would recommend. Christchurch 229

The book was a fast and fun read, which raised some interesting, and topical issues. Wellington 046

We all loved it: clever, funny and quirky. An amazing first novel. Some members even thought it was the best book we'd had for several years! And, of course, discussion ( on the various issues raised) followed at length. Auckland 009

We all really enjoyed this one. Most of the ladies wanted to take Alex home. It certainly gave us plenty to talk about. Morrinsville 002

Everyone in our group loved this book.The characters are so interestingly drawn: and the bond that grows between Alex and Mr Peterson becomes so strong and real, that it touched us all deeply.....Auckland 088

On the whole our group loved this book. Strangely, the discussion revolved around Alex's Asperger's rather than assisted suicide, which was a surprise. It was a complex, humorous and well written book. We look forward to the author's next book. The notes are excellent too. Nelson 023

This book had mixed reactions from the group - some loved it, and some found it hard to get into. Most found that it was an easy read, and enjoyed the characters of Alex and Mr Peterson. Dunedin 039

Everyone enjoyed this book. A book that deals with heavy themes such as bullying, drug use and euthanasia in a pragmatic and thought provoking manner. A funny book that appeals to all ages. Wanaka 013

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Humour, Morals/Ethics, Young narrator, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups


[Please log in to write a review]
By: CHCH 449 2022-05-06 14:08:10
Most of us agreed with the comment: "Thought-provoking wth clever characters". However some struggled with the story initially, one didn't enjoy it all and one gave up after the first couple of chapters.

By: PALMN 029 2022-04-22 15:57:59
This book was universally liked by the entire group and led to a lot of interesting conversations. The book had an interesting story and writing style, that were a good way to explore high school life, friendship, press, and assisted suicide.

By: CHCH 488 2021-08-18 21:43:09
We read this in the lead up to the referendums on assisted dying and legalisation of cannabis, so it was very topical and we all had an opinion. We liked the characters and overall thought the book was good but not great.

By: TURA 003 2021-03-10 09:11:50
One of the best books that the group has read. Characters were easily relatable and despite the heavy subject matter (euthanasia, cannabis use) was considered an uplifting book.

By: AUCK 255 2020-08-19 11:49:12
A quirky story which unexpectedly developed into a debate on euthanasia. Light and insightful despite the serious topic.

By: TAUR 043 2018-04-13 14:23:34
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the book. At first a couple of members thought it was written for teenagers, but were soon 'hooked in'. We really liked the way it dealt with the big questions. We thought the author either had personal experience of, or had done thorough research on assisted suicide. Our group highly recommend this book.

By: GOVER 003 2018-04-13 14:13:21
Lively discussion. Most people admitted to laughing out loud at parts, but we all recognised and admired the writer's skill and research on serious topics.

By: HAMIL 029 2018-04-13 13:53:49
Everyone enjoyed this book. The voice of the teenaged narrator, Alex, is so well done. There's plenty of humour even though the main issue is so dark. Maybe the issue at the heart of the novel is too simplified to be a genuine help in the debate about euthanasia, but the book's still a good read.

By: TAUR 015 2018-04-13 13:49:06
A wonderful story enjoyed by everyone in our group. Both the storyline and characters offered interesting discussion starters.

By: NELS 062 2018-04-13 13:46:36
The usual range of opinions - "Absolutely loved it!" to " A fairy tale impossible to believe in!". Many topics for discussion - assisted suicide, epilepsy, space, New Age philosophy, solo mothers etc. We look forward to other offerings from this author.

By: NGON 002 2018-04-11 14:57:57
All but one of our group thoroughly enjoyed this book. It provoked good discussion on many of the topics raised. We were all in agreement that assisted dying (especially as portrayed) would be a good thing. We enjoyed Alex and felt that his character really rang true. In fact one of our members hugged the book when she finished it. It made us all laugh out loud and at least two of us cried. The author created a real place, and real people with all our imperfections. Would recommend it to other readers.

By: QUEEN 010 2018-04-11 14:48:43
An absolutely fabulous book. We all completely LOVED it, and had lots of discussion around it. Our favourite book of the year!

By: TAUR 035 2018-03-23 10:22:06
All of the group enjoyed this book. We thought that the characters and their interactions were well drawn. Very impressed that so many complicated issues were covered in depth but with a lightness of touch that no way diminished their importance. Like the book our discussion on end of life matters was quite muted, and much less polarising than these discussions normally are with a diverse group coming from different perspectives. There were many laugh out loud bits and only one member found that they took some time to get into the story. A genuine 'feel good' read.

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