Jemm Frances Reads…The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

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This is a book that probably would have passed me by was it not for a recommendation from a friend (thanks Leilah!) With all the other books I have stacked up to read this debut novel from Gavin Extence stood a good chance of escaping my attention altogether, but I have to say I’m so glad it didn’t.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the cover but within the first couple of pages I was hooked, I immediately liked the protagonist Alex Woods despite that fact that he was being questioned by the police when I first met him.

To say Alex Woods is an outsider would be a bit of an understatement. With a clairvoyant single mother, a cat he treats like a sister and a love of books and science it’s no wonder he’s a prime target for school bullies. He’s also epileptic thanks to being hit in the head by a falling meteorite at the age of ten, making him one of the most famous boys in Britain.

You’d think that that would be quite enough adventure for one young man to be getting along with but the adventures of Alex Woods only truly begin when he meets cantankerous old Mr. Peterson and Alex discovers you can find friends in the most unlikely of places.

The journey, both literally and metaphorically, that the pair embark upon will make you laugh and make you cry. It will also teach you a lesson.

So at the age of seventeen when Alex is pulled over at Dover customs having driven solo across Europe with an urn full of ashes, a stash of marijuana and an entire country searching for him he has a lot of explaining to do…

This is a story that will uplift you and break your heart in one fell swoop. Alex narrates with deadpan humour, the innocence of youth and the wisdom that fighting for something you believe in can bring. Funny, tragic and hugely enjoyable. 

Cleverly written it will keep you engaged until the very last page with this double act of characters encouraging you to accept who you are, discover your principles and stand by them no matter what. 

After reading this book you might look around you and find that things may not always be as black and white as they seem. 

This book was recommended to me and now I thoroughly recommend it to you.

Jemm xoxo


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