Published by Redhook on June 25th, 2013
Genres: adult, contemporary
Buy on Amazon
A rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was ten years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn't had the easiest childhood.
But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count.
So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the front seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he's fairly sure he's done the right thing ...
Introducing a bright young voice destined to charm the world, The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a celebration of curious incidents, astronomy and astrology, the works of Kurt Vonnegut and the unexpected connections that form our world.
There is so much hype around this book. When I was able to pick up a copy at BEA, I was really excited. And they practically just shoved it in my hands. Redhook is a new imprint and it seems like they have a lot of good books coming out. The cool thing is they are only publishing one a month. So I am assuming this is their June release. I will definitely be following this publisher and watching to see what they do. As for The Universe Versus Alex Woods, it was good but it didn’t quite connect with me in a way I was hoping it would. Which is a shame as it does seem to be getting a lot of love out there. Unfortunately, I have quite a few criticisms to discuss. But first, let’s get the good out of the way.
I loved the writing. I really did. Alex has an amazing and distinct voice and he was an adorable, sweet, strong, intelligent character. There were times he annoyed me and went off on a tangent and I wanted him to get to the point. That was frustrating and not enjoyable, to be honest, but aside from that I liked him quite a bit. Thing is though, the way this book is written makes me feel like I should have been more emotionally involved as I was. There is a very sweet relationship between Alex and Mr. Peterson, the town curmudgeon, who become friends and take care of each other. Knowing myself and how I normally get attached to the older characters, I didn’t feel as engaged with Mr. Peterson as I wanted to. In fact, his character was kind of flat. Towards the end, when the book got moving, I felt more, but by then it felt a little too late.
This book is definitely a study in characters. Though there is a plot, it doesn’t seem to be the main focus and that was kind of disappointing, because with that wonderful blurb up there, I expected the book to be a bit more exciting than it was. Though it was enough to engage me, I did find myself kind of bored more often than not. I feel really bad because I feel like I am the only person on the internet that didn’t rave about this book. Usually I agree with the masses, and though I think there was a lot of good and unique here, ultimately I was left feeling underwhelmed.
Also, once again based on the blurb, I expected this book to be a lot funnier than it was. There were times I felt it was trying too hard. There were lines that I feel that were supposed to be funny but absolutely weren’t. Not eye-rolling bad or anything but just…BLAH.
It should be at this point as well that I mention I read this while on vacation and wasn’t able to write a comprehensive review at the time due to crappy internet access, and so a lot of the details I probably should have covered in this review I have forgotten. I could blame that on the book, but I won’t…completely. Fact is, my memory stinks when it comes to remembering books. But…if it is super special, I WILL remember the most important parts.
I read another book with a similar voice that most readers connected with and once again I did not. That was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. I feel like I was the only one that missed the point of that book as well. So I should just stay away from books with an awkward teenage male voice. Or maybe there will be a special one someday that really blows my mind. Until that day…
It really is a powerful book though that covers a lot of important topics and themes.