The Universe vs Alex Woods

“If you had to relive your life exactly as it was – same successes and failures, same happiness, same miseries, same mixture of comedy and tragedy – would you want to? Was it worth it?- The Universe versus Alex Woods

The Universe versus Alex Woods was a book I picked up at my local Oxfam shop after dropping off some charity donations.

My overriding feeling from this book is one of ambivalence. I normally make a point to finish a book, no matter how bad the writing gets (hello, Twilight series), but somehow I couldn’t quite get into this book no matter how much I tried. It was almost like everything that you physically needed for a book was there, but it was almost written too methodically or the character plots were just too obvious for me to feel like I had entered the world of this book.

The book tells a story of a boy, Alex Woods who was hit by a meteorite when he was 10 years old. He developed epilepsy and so was in and out of hospital quite a lot during his childhood and had a mother who read tarot cards for a living so he was more of a loner than social butterfly (think Marcus in ‘About A Boy’). He then meets widower Mr. Peterson who teaches him that life is worth living and then through that he decides to set up a book club. He also makes friends with a girl called Ellie that gets a job in the crystal shop that his mother runs and helps Mr. Peterson with assisted suicide.

The elements of the story are interesting (if improbable) but I found myself not really caring about the characters enough to get emotionally invested in the story, they just didn’t feel ‘real’ enough for me somehow. I think the main point of the book e.g. a younger person meets an older person causing the younger person to be influenced by the older person and vice versa has been done much better in other books, namely The Reader’.

I also felt there was a lot of additional detail in the book that didn’t add to the story or the characters so it was heavy going at times. All in all, the book just felt a little forced for me and I wouldn’t recommend to a friend- which to me, is a mark of a good book. The book has now gone in my ‘will go back to charity’ pile and hopefully someone will like this book more than me. Looking on it got an average rating of 4.1 which is pretty good, so obviously there are fans of this book out there, I am just not one of them!

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