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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are all made of stars
I almost didn't read this book. Something about the blurb put me off, 'So when, aged seventeen, 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 . . .' It sounded a bit too clever for it own good, a novel that would be all style with little...
Published on 20 Feb. 2013 by Quicksilver

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written début novel
This was a Book-club choice and not a title I would have picked up otherwise. It was an interesting read but I cannot really say it was enjoyable, but only because I was unable to build a rapport with the protagonist Alex Woods a teenage science nerd . However this is a very well written début novel from a young author that I suspect we will hear a lot more from in...
Published 17 months ago by LindyLouMac


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written début novel, 2 Dec. 2013
This was a Book-club choice and not a title I would have picked up otherwise. It was an interesting read but I cannot really say it was enjoyable, but only because I was unable to build a rapport with the protagonist Alex Woods a teenage science nerd . However this is a very well written début novel from a young author that I suspect we will hear a lot more from in the years to come. He has tackled the ethical issue which is a major theme of the novel in an extremely sensitive way. Although the story line was not to my taste it was still an emotional and thought provoking read.

Alex Woods is a strong willed teenager with a fascination for science and particularly astronomy, after being hit by a falling meteorite. The accident puts him in a coma from which he does recover but leaves him isolated from his own age group by his strange background. When he meets Mr Peterson a pot smoking Vietnam veteran, the unlikely pair become friends. Alex learns via Mr Peterson's obsession with the author Kurt Vonnegut that we only get one shot at life so have to make the best choices along the way that we can.

I am not sure to whom one would particularly recommend this novel, but if you have read ' The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night' it may well appeal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And So It Goes, 8 Feb. 2015
Who knew that sincere, ironic and earnest deadpan naivete would be Kurt Vonnegut's lasting contribution to the world of letters? Well, I guess anyone who read him at an impressionable age knows that. This book is a wonderful, touching and calmly reassuring reminder that the spirit of Vonnegut lives on in the world of letters.

As is the case with all of Vonnegut's work, (and Vonnegut was a very canny character), where you stand on this book depends on where you sit. Tween, teen, YA, millennial, GenX, new adult, all the way up to old-timers who think they might have been at Woodstock, where you are determines in large measure how you feel about this book. For me, it lacks the antic absurdity of prime Vonnegut but as homages go it strikes many of the right notes. I didn't find it very profound, but that's me. Given the task at hand, I'm also not inclined to be overly critical.

So, if you'd like to absorb and mull over a calm, reflective and generously good-hearted, quiet book, this might be a very nice choice.

Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 15 Aug. 2013
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
I fell heavily for this book. In turn funny, heartwarming, clever and tearjerking, it's an absolute delight from its immediately engaging start through to its finish. It's about (and narrated by) Alex Woods, a quirky, bookish, misfit teen who has suffered from epilepsy since he was hit by a meteor at the age of 10. He befriends an older man, Mr Peterson, and among other things, they bond over a love of Kurt Vonnegut novels. We know from the opening paragraph that Mr Peterson will die, but the book takes a long time to work its way back to the story behind how that happens - and why Alex becomes the subject of a police hunt.

Why this book works so well is not in what happens (which is only borderline believable), but the delightful way that Alex tells us his story and gets us to care so much about his fate. The book succeeds in tackling some heavy subjects but in a way that isn't remotely hard going. Alex's deadpan humour and unusual take on events is simply delightful to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine debut novel, 26 May 2013
By 
Norman Housley (Leicester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Unfortunately this novel was the subject of a bidding war which means that Hodder and Stoughton have had their publicity machine playing at full blast. On this occasion though the hype is not far from the truth because this is a very good novel and extraordinary as a first effort. I did find it heavily derivative, you can clearly hear not just Mark Haddon but also David Mitchell and Sue Townsend. Still, Extence has his own voice and he writes beautifully. I thought it odd that he gave away the ending at the very start and wonder why he made that decision, because the book was clearly very carefully structured. I am sure he will be explaining it at the numerous book signings that Hodder are making him take on. The result was that I found the last third wearisome, though most other readers didn't, given the rave reviews. Extence is certainly one to watch, a big talent.
Your enjoyment of this book will be enhanced if you're into Vonnegut, which I'm not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You know when a novel just resonates? That., 25 Feb. 2013
By 
Mrs. Fiona Wilton - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This novel gave me that wonderful feeling when everything being said connects deeply to how I feel about life, the universe, and everything.
It's an extraordinary tale of meteorites, an offbeat upbringing, profound friendship and doing and being what you feel is right (even if it does break the rules). Alex Woods, the narrator, has a most delightful and frank outlook on life and isn't afraid to ask the 'big' questions. His views are delivered with artless grace and humour and had me weeping both tears of laughter and sorrow.
It reminded me greatly of the superb A Fraction Of The Whole, both books with stupendous plots, flawed but wonderful characters and writing that just carries you forward (I took this book everywhere, I was so enraptured I finished it in a couple of days). Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story and characters stay with you after you're finished..., 5 April 2013
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
It starts at the end, with 17 year old Alex being stopped by the police. Then he rewinds the narrative to explain his life up to this point.
I got totally sucked into Alex's story. His life as a series of chance events (being only the second person ever to be hit by a meteor, developing epilepsy), all leading him towards the friendship of Mr Peterson and to his maturation into a young man with incredibly adult and difficult choices to make.

The book is all about chance and choice - what happens to us affects who we are. Our choices stay with us forever and have to be thought through.

By the end I had a deep respect for Alex and the adult he had made himself become.

A touching story, one I couldn't put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get lost in this good book, 1 Oct. 2014
By 
Siltone (Staffordshire) - See all my reviews
This is a story that stayed with me long after I had finished it. The author effortlessly spins this tale about a schoolboy (Alex) and the friendship he develops with a reclusive middle-aged American widower. The story is actually narrated by the teenager Alex himself who is intelligent and knowledgable on one hand but is also very naive when it comes to interacting with people. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with Alex and couldn't help but get emotionally affected by his experiences - be they good or bad.
If you are someone who hasn't read a book in ages but wishes to get back in "the zone" then you couldn't go far wrong by picking up a copy of this quirky, amusing, touching and sometimes dark debut novel by Gavin Extence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A better second half, 22 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Universe versus Alex Woods (Kindle Edition)
I found the first half of this book laborious. However the second half was touching, warm and discussed a major ethical issue in an intelligent sensitive manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, 6 Jan. 2014
I loved that book. It's funny, it's touching and so well written that it's easy to read and you don't want to put it down. I loved the main characters and many of the supporting ones. I actually found the protagonist's honesty, rationality, open-mindedness, intelligence and innocence very relieving and easy to connect to. However its most important attribute I think is the fact that the author manages to discuss important philosophical and controversial issues within the plot, without making the book heavy, tiring or melancholic and without being superficial about the issues discussed! The way he deals with it is in my view admirable. A great novel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling!, 20 May 2013
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This review is from: The Universe versus Alex Woods (Kindle Edition)
This unusual book really surprised me with the quality of writing, a great plot and some lovely, very varied but believable characters. It is intelligent and informative without speaking down to those readers who don't know much about the scientific facts -that just added to the interest. Despite the fact that the ending is sort of inevitable, I had to keep on reading. My Kindle was almost out of battery, but thankfully I made it to the last page. It's the kind of book which demands a second reading at least. The general wackiness has echoes of Adrian Mole, though I'm not sure why. A very satisfying read. I look forward to this author's next novel with interest, though it will be difficult for him to better this one.
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