Hello again my dear, sweet, chirpy little blog munchkins! It is your trusty (and attractive) chaperone, Mad Martha, taking your hand today and guiding you ever deeper into the world of the shelf. Today’s offering, The Universe Versus Alex Woods is the debut effort by Gavin Extence and I must tell you that it is an impressive and thought-provoking attempt indeed!
The book follows the fates and fortunes of Alex Woods, a young lad with a surprisingly eventful life story, as he comes of age amongst some very unusual circumstances. Protagonist and narrator, Alex introduces himself to the reader while attempting to re-enter the UK with the ashes of his recently deceased best friend on the passenger seat and a bag of medicinal marijuana (also belonging to said recently deceased best friend) in the glovebox. Oddly enough, we first encounter Alex at the end of his story, and are subsequently invited to accompany him on a typical period of adolescent growth, cheerfully accented with rogue meteroids, a mother with extrasensory talents and the founding of the secular Church of Kurt Vonnegut. Really, it’s not your typical YA fare.
Young man, off kilter,
meets ethical dilemma
and finds his centre
Extence’s novel provides a lot of food for thought. Dealing, as it does, with the ethical quagmire relating to an individual’s perceived right to die, the reader is both invited and challenged to accompany Alex as he is forced to confront issues that would bamboozle those with far more life experience, and choose a path that he can live with in good conscience. Given that the book deals with these fairly advanced concepts, and contains substantial references to drug use, it is definitely one for the upper end of the YA spectrum and adult readers. It’s also a great candidate to take one’s time over, as much as to give one a chance to digest the highly eventful plot line as much as anything else.
I highly recommend this to any reader who is looking for a read that provides something to chew over after the last chapter, is happy to confront their own values related to the end of life and wants to be pleasantly surprised by an author that might possibly become a new favourite.
So that’s that my pretties….except that Bruce has asked me to remind you all that October’s Fiction in 50 challenge will be open on Monday, for entries on the prompt:
If you want to play, simply create a piece of fiction in fifty words or less and post a link to my prompt post sometime next week. For more instructions and information, click on this satisfyingly large button:
The more the merrier!
Cheerio until next we meet poppets,