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The Universe versus Alex Woods (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Gavin Extence
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

This is a story that will have you smiling through your tears, a story that touches on the most potentially devastating of human dilemmas, without an ounce of sentimentality. It is also enormously uplifting. Perfectly crafted and beautifully written, the voice of this novel is true and clear and brings to life the human condition with insight, tenderness and humour. Which is to say the quality of style matches the quality of content. The Universe versus Alex Woods may be a debut novel but it is an outstanding novel by any standards. Unforgettable. (Red)

'It's Mark Haddon meets Kurt Vonnegut' (Observer)

'An eccentric young protagonist meets his match in a compelling comic debut' (The Bookseller)

'One of the year's most anticipated debuts' (Time Out)

'You'll laugh and cry... One of the funniest and most heartbreaking double acts in ages . . . an exceptionally good debut novel 5*' (Heat)

'Fans of quirky tales will love this debut novel' (Bella)

'This is an extraordinary debut novel. For me, Gavin Extence has produced in his narrator and hero Alex one of the most intriguing literary young people since Mark Haddon's Christopher. He's reminiscent of a better behaved Just William as an 11-year-old, combining a hyper-intelligence with naivet? that's as quirky as his upbringing' (The Bookbag)

The debate around assisted suicide is eternally controversial but, when it comes to an argument for allowing sick people of mind the right to die, The Universe Versus Alex Woods trumps any Dignitas spokesman . . . Where this novel shines is in its characterisation: the brittle outer layers of socially awkward people are unpeeled to reveal big hearts and raw emotions. The sparring between Alex and Mr Peterson is a joy to read . . . With wit and warmth, Gavin Extence shines a light on one of the darkest, most difficult subjects of our time. (Sunday Express)

Warm and funny and tragic and uplifting all in one. Extence should be on everyone's radar (Jasper Fforde)

'Extence unfolds his offbeat tale with skill but his real triumph lies in providing such a memorable voice' (The Sunday Times)

'Extence's plotting is astute, and he handles the theme of euthanasia with an affecting delicacy' (Financial Times)

'Where this novel shines is in its characterisation: the brittle outer layers of socially awkward people are unpeeled to reveal big hearts and raw emotions. The sparring between Alex and Mr Peterson is a joy to read . . . With wit and warmth, Gavin Extence shines a light on one of the darkest, most difficult subjects of our time' (Sunday Express)

'The author Gavin Extence has been likened to Mark Haddon and Kurt Vonnegut, but the best comparison I can make is to JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. It's not the subject matter, more the way that Extence takes a small group of characters and builds up a story that hooks you in slowly and enduringly so, when the final crescendo peaks, you're so involved that you're weeping in to your pillow at 2am on a school night because you just had to know what happens. Then, of course, there's Alex: the quirkiest hero to grace modern literature since Adrian Mole . . . both heartwarming and painful to read . . . a resonant coming-of-age tale with a light touch.' (Stylist)

'Extence masters the difficult combination of comedy and tragedy and his lovingly-drawn central characters provoke deep-thought. Like his mother's colleague, emo-esque Ellie, readers will become increasingly fond of Alex, the na?ve - yet insightful - narrator. Here's hoping Extence plans a sequel.' (We Love This Book)

'Laugh-out-loud funny in places, Gavin Extence's debut novel perfectly captures the awkwardness and agonies of growing up . . . Death, faith and morality are some of the gigantic concepts tackled here but with a lightness of touch and humour that never sounds like preaching.' (Press Association)

'The Universe Versus Alex Woods is built on brilliant characterisation, humour and emotional sincerity, cemented by philosophical mettle . . . a very impressive debut novel. With writing that is logical yet lyrical, comic yet compassionate, Gavin Extence has revealed the simple beauty of laughter, friendship, love and reason.' (Litro)

'When the material darkens towards the end, Extence skilfully manages to keep the narrative engaging and surprising. Mr Peterson, in particular, is a welcome antidote to those endless depictions of wise old men who know everything, being a spiky, contradictory figure raging against the dying of the light with impressive and stirring verve. After it finds its voice, this is a hugely enjoyable and even wise book, with plenty to say about life and death, and Vonnegut fans, in particular, will absolutely love it'. (Observer)

'Sensitive, intelligent and articulate' (Joe Thomas, from The Inbetweeners)

This is the most thought-provoking book I have read for a long time.... I laughed out loud and cried quite a lot. (Pages & Pages Booksellers)

Spectacularly barmy, unexpectedly moving and reasonably thought-provoking (beattiesbookblog.blogspot.co.uk)

It's becoming a cliche to that say that x is a strong debut novel which shows the author has potential but TUvsAW is one of those novels... Extence is a strong writer. Alex Woods feels like a unique and powerful character and as a narrator had me laughing and crying... it's a tale well worth telling and reading. It's also one that makes a cross-over novel for adults and children alike and I'm curious to see that Gavin Extence writes next. (GavReads)

'The novel won me over. Extence tells a great story that owes much to Kurt Vonnegut, but also something to Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. It's hard not to see an echo of Harry Potter too, in the boy hero with a scar on his head. The final section is human and touching and Extence deserves credit for the clever and timely idea of fictionalising a trip to the Swiss death clinic...Extence's hugely likeable first novel is a fairytale for rationalists' (Guardian.co.uk)

This is a genuinely hilarious read, but also a deeply moving story about childhood, neurology and mortality. (Daily Telegraph)

Présentation de l'éditeur

DISCOVER THE MAGIC OF AN UNUSUAL FRIENDSHIP



A Richard and Judy 2013 Summer Bookclub read, winner of the Writer’s Guild Award and Amazon Rising Stars Award and shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Specsavers National Book Award, this is the funny and touching story of an unlikely friendship and an improbable journey.




Alex Woods knows that he hasn't had the most conventional start in life.




He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won't endear him to the local bullies.




He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen – he's got the scars to prove it.




What he doesn't know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he'll make an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make the best possible choices.




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.




A tale of an unexpected friendship, an unlikely hero and an improbable journey, Alex's story treads the fine line between light and dark, laughter and tears. And it might just strike you as one of the funniest, most heartbreaking novels you've ever read.


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Commentaires client les plus utiles
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Drôle, intelligent et émouvant 23 mars 2014
Par Armalite TOP 500 COMMENTATEURS
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
A l'âge de 11 ans, Alex est touché par la chute d'un météore et survit à peu près indemne - à ceci près qu'il devient épileptique, et une curiosité pour tous les scientifiques du monde. Tandis qu'il s'efforce d'apprendre à contrôler sa maladie, il fait la connaissance d'Isaac Petersen. Ce vieux monsieur qui a combattu au Vietnam est revenu blessé à la jambe et fervent pacifiste, mais aussi quelque peu misanthrope. Pourtant, une amitié très forte se développe entre lui et l'adolescent dépourvu de père autant que de copains de son âge. M. Petersen fait découvrir Kurt Vonnegut et la musique classique à Alex; il lui enseigne quelques vérités essentielles et lui apprend à conduire. Aussi, quand il apparaît que son vieil ami est atteint d'une maladie incurable, Alex décide de l'accompagner jusqu'au bout de son voyage...

D'accord, le suicide assisté, ce n'est pas ce qui se fait de plus gai comme thème de roman. Mais en vérité, ce n'est que le prétexte à raconter une amitié hors-normes et l'initiation à la vie du jeune narrateur. Mélange de grande précocité et d'attendrissante candeur, Alex m'a beaucoup fait penser au prodigieux T. S. Spivet. Et j'ai ri de ses mésaventures au moins aussi souvent que j'ai eu la gorge nouée. Les romans intelligents, drôles et émouvants à la fois ne courent pas les rues. Si vous lisez l'anglais et n'êtes pas rebuté par le sujet, je vous conseille vraiment de vous pencher sur "Universe Versus Alex Woods".
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  263 commentaires
67 internautes sur 73 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A terrific book 3 février 2013
Par Sid Nuncius - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I thought this was a terrific book. It is funny, thoughtful, touching and profound in its way, and I found it utterly engrossing as a story. It is hard to give any account of the plot without giving away more that I would have liked to know before I started, but it is narrated by Alex, a serious, studious seventeen-year-old in England. He forms an unlikely friendship which leads him in a very unexpected and challenging direction - which sounds thoroughly corny, sentimental and cliché-ed, and isn't any of those things. It is an engaging, funny and touching story with some important things to say.

Alex has a fantastically well-realised narrative voice, with very penetrating observations to make about lots of things, all of which are deadpan and as a result are often funny as well as being very shrewd. For example, of his mother, a clairvoyant, he says: "...my mother revealed that she'd foreseen the entire catastrophe. Of course, she didn't realise that she'd foreseen the entire catastrophe until after it had happened." There are many examples of this sort of thing, and I loved it. I found echoes of Mark Haddon's The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime in Alex's voice, which is high praise indeed. Other characters are very believable and beautifully portrayed, and all have their own very distinctive and recognisable traits and voices. The story is excellently structured and paced, and I found myself utterly bound up in this book and it eventually hijacked my day because I couldn't bear not to finish it.

This is one of the best and most memorable books I have read for some time - very warmly recommended indeed.
41 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Extraordinary Book 23 mars 2013
Par Brett H - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
This is a quite extraordinary book. I think it is fair to say that had I read a full synopsis of the content before I started reading I would probably not have bothered since it is certainly not the sort of book I would expect to enjoy. This would have been a big mistake and very much my loss as this is an unusual story which gets the attention at the outset and is a fascinating read throughout.

I will not go into much detail on the story as there is a danger here of spoiling it for future readers. However, the main plot is about an unlikely friendship between Alex Woods, who is at school, and an elderly American whom he meets, Mr Peterson. It covers a period of about five years from when Alex is 12 to aged 17. Alex is from an unusual background, having a witch for a mother and having also being in the unlikely position of having survived being hit by a meteorite. Mr Peterson is a dour, veteran of the Vietnam War. The relationship between them builds very gradually but is complex and very meaningful.

This is a tale which is quite poignant in parts, but with plenty of humor mixed in. The end manages to be both sad and uplifting which is quite a difficult feat for an author to accomplish. Certainly I felt at the end that I would have liked to be able to read more in the same vein, but this book is very much a one off so it is unlikely that there will be more. However, it is certainly a read which most will enjoy and certainly I found myself thinking about the issues raised once I had finished, which is always a sign of a story which has had quite an impact.
26 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 a good start, and I can't wait to see where he goes from here 23 juillet 2013
Par Walter in Austin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
If Gavin Extence keeps writing and developing as a fiction author, I'm very excited to see where his imagination takes him (and us). This first book is a good start, but is most significant for me as a harbinger of things to come.

"The Universe Versus Alex Woods" is very episodic.....this happens, then that, then this, etc. For this style of book to be stellar, the magic in the style of writing itself has to carry things. Kurt Vonnegut (Extence's self-proclaimed hero) was a master of sparkling, wonderous writing. Even though Vonnegut's books had more wild flights of fancy than just a meteorite hitting someone (which is the one fanciful conceit of "...Woods"), I always felt like he could have written about almost anything and still had me enthralled, through the sheer wonder of his writing style. I have every reason to believe that Extence is going to reach that type of writing in his career, probably sooner rather than later, but he isn't there yet in this, his first novel.

The characters are potentially interesting, but not fully realized. Ripe plot developments are teed up, but never really pursued. Overall, the read is pleasant and I did enjoy the book. But I realized about a third of the way through that this is an author I'm likely to love in the future, but he hasn't put it all together yet. I sense there may be a much more interesting and idiosyncratic writer underneath this book, waiting to get out. I hope Extence lets him roam free and wild for the next one. I look forward to seeing where this talented and intelligent writer takes his craft.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great story with a realistic, compassionate protagonist 23 juin 2013
Par Kindle Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This story begins with an ending. You're not quite sure where the protagonist is coming from -- he's young and clearly in a lot of trouble with the police. I was worried that Alex -- called Lex by his mother, and not entirely coincidentally also bald -- would turn to an unsympathetic character. I hate those -- people who are horrible and make terrible decisions. But no, Alex, while making a series of decisions not everyone agrees with, is an entirely moral and compassionate young man.

He's notorious because as a young boy, he was hit by a meteor and recovered after a two week coma, but not without consequences. He gets severe epilepsy, enough that it keeps him out of school for a year. Then he goes to school where he's bullied because he's different; isn't that the way?

I like how Alex figures stuff out and often lists it -- such as ways he doesn't fit in or how his friend Mr. Peterson needs help making a critical decision.

What I appreciated is that our precocious protagonist is real. He makes mistakes that seem genuine -- you could easily have made them. He also in the process of learning about life and literature, about how to control his own unsound brain and how watching someone he loves die.

I love that a major thread of the book is Kurt Vonnegut, absurdity, and secular humanism. I totally want to join The Secular Church of Kurt Vonnegut.

Alex learns from his friend, Mr. Peterson, an irascible war veteran who'd rather be left alone. Alex and Mr. Peterson rail against each other in a way that's hilarious -- Alex won't bring him certain kinds of music in the hospital, because he's not ready for it.

This book was a library ebook loan, and I loved it so much that I bought it. That's the highest praise, trust me.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting first novel 21 août 2013
Par W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Sometimes, you read a book and you want to love it; it's funny, clever, and geeky, it covers an interesting topics, it has cool characters, it truly should be a case of connect-the-dots to love and yet ... instead of love you get stuck in the friend zone--you like the book, you want to be its friend, but the spark to ignite more than friendship is just lacking. For me, The Universe Versus Alex Woods was such a book. This isn't to say that it a bad book or that I didn't enjoy it, it's just that it didn't have that spark for me. And that is mostly due to its protagonist and narrator Alex.

Be warned: there will be spoilers past this point, because there is no way to explain the above without touching upon things that are spoilers for the story's plot.

Alex is not your regular teenage boy. No, he's is one of the only people known to have survived a direct meteorite hit. As a consequence, he is epileptic, has a scar on the side of his head, which causes him to shave his head as not all of his hair grew back, and he's something of an odd duck as everyone knows he's the Boy Who Lived, or rather, the Boy Who Survived. All of which doesn't help him fit in with his school mates one jot. So far, so good, this shouldn't have been a problem at all, I like that trope; so what went wrong? Alex's voice is what went wrong. The person narrating the book is Alex at seventeen, but throughout the book he sounds far younger and, as a result, also rather precocious in a know-it-all way. If anything, he reminded me of Marcus from Nick Hornby's About a Boy, but more the film version than the book version, up to and including the weird, New Age hippy mum, the grouchy neighbour he befriends, and the gothy/emo love interest. But then with added epilepsy from brain damage caused by a meteorite. In all, not a point of view character I fell in love with. Still, by the end of the book, I came to appreciate him and I found his journey compelling, and I liked where he ended up by the last page of the book.

The character I found absolutely fascinating was Mr Peterson. A widowed Vietnam vet, who has retreated into his own cocoon and who doesn't really have any connections to life any more beyond his dog, he is your prototype tough guy with a heart of gold. I found his reluctant friendship with Alex quite touching; his unquestioning acceptance of Alex's quirky nature and his gradual bolstering of Alex's self-esteem were heart-warming. So when Mr Peterson is diagnosed with a progressive, terminal neural disease, it's devastating, both for Alex and the reader. What follows after is heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. It's also what made the novel stand out for me and provoked quite some thought.

Because this is the point where The Universe Versus Alex Woods hits its stride and its main question: Who decides when it's time to leave this world. The novel discusses a person's right to die in a frank and unflinching manner. While I questioned Mr Peterson's decision to make Alex his main co-conspirator in his plan to die on his own terms and in his own time - who would put a seventeen-year-old in that position? - I never questioned that he decided to take that option. Perhaps, that's partly due to the fact that euthanasia is an accepted choice in my country; if a person is terminally ill or has a condition that is so debilitating that quality of life is so bad that it is more punishment than gift to be kept alive, they have the option of discontinuing treatment, or even actively ending their life, under very strict rules and the guidance of a doctor. This isn't to say that this is a common occurrence, far from it, but it's an accepted one. But Extence lays the groundwork for Mr Peterson's choice carefully and has Alex examine his choice from all angles before taking a stance. And following on from Alex's conclusions, it's hard to not see why they both think it is the right choice. Obviously, this will be a controversial stance for many people for many different reasons, but I found Extence treatment of this difficult, and quite often rather taboo topic, thoughtful and respectful and I commend him for the way he tackled it.

In the end, The Universe Versus Alex Woods was a bit of a mixed bag for me. If not for the incredibly powerful last part of the novel, it would have been a mediocre read for me, again not due to the author's writing skills or the story, but due to the disconnect I experienced between the character's voice and his actions. But the examination of the thorny issue of active euthanasia at a point of an illness' progression where even in the Netherlands it's doubtful that the doctors would agree to it, lifted the book to another level in my opinion. Far from perfect, The Universe Versus Alex Woods was an interesting first novel from Gavin Extence and is quite worth a read.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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