The Universe vs Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
From the opening pages of this brilliant novel you know you are in for a real treat. Seventeen-year-old Alex is stopped at Dover customs with the entire nation in an uproar about his disappearance. After suffering an epileptic fit, he is taken into police custody and they quiz him about the marijuana found in the car, as well as the large amount of cash...and an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat. To discover what Alex has been up to, Alex takes us back to the beginning of the saga when he narrowly missed being killed by a falling meteorite, something his clairvoyant mother didn’t foresee, or the friendship he would strike up with the reclusive and grumpy widower Mr Peterson, or the book club he ended up organising devoted exclusively to the works of Kurt Vonnegut.
This is a quirky, engaging novel that is both funny and heartbreaking. Alex is a unique character who is warm and loveable and he makes a courageous, but controversial decision when he eventually helps his friend, Mr Peterson, on a life journey unlike any other. This is a wonderful book, which despite the humour that bursts from every page, touches on serious themes. It will entertain and also get you thinking. Gavin Extence is definitely a novelist to take note of.