by Gavin Extence

4* (Pre-publication review. Publication Date: 31 Jan 2013)

The tale of Alex Woods, age 17, as told by himself, in a steady, logical, borderline-autistic voice.

Struck on the head by a meteorite when he was a child, Alex lives a quietly extraordinary life. An epileptic, obsessed by maths, astronomy and Kurt Vonnegut, Alex is a deeply geeky, lonely boy with few friends but a complex inner life. The story is rich in references – His Dark Materials, A Prayer for Owen Meany, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Catch 22, Schubert – but most of all, Kurt Vonnegut, who Alex discovers through his accidental friendship with a Vietnam vet, a friendship destined to change the entire course of Alex’s life.

This is, in many ways, a very profound book, that philosophises on the meaning of life and death – or lack of meaning; Alex is something of an existentialist. Which is not to say Alex Woods Versus the Universe is in any way dry or dull or even worthy; it’s a consistently entertaining and very funny – laugh out loud funny – read, which I highly recommend.