'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.'
'It's Mark Haddon meets Kurt Vonnegut'
'An eccentric young protagonist meets his match in a compelling comic debut'
One of the year's most anticipated debuts
'One of the funniest and most heartbreaking double acts in ages . . . an exceptionally good debut novel 5*'
'Fans of quirky tales will love this debut novel'
'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 naiveté that's as quirky as his upbringing'
'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.'
'Warm and funny and tragic and uplifting all in one. Extence should be on everyone's radar'
'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'.
'Sensitive, intelligent and articulate'
'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 naïve - yet insightful - narrator. Here's hoping Extence plans a sequel'
'This funny, touching first novel... Extence unfolds his offbeat tale with skill but his real triumph lies in providing such a memorable voice'
'Extence's plotting is astute, and he handles the theme of euthanasia with an affecting delicacy'
This is the most thought-provoking book I have read for a long time...I laughed out loud and cried quite a lot.
Spectacularly barmy, unexpectedly moving and reasonably thought-provoking
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.
'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'
This is a genuinely hilarious read, but also a deeply moving story about childhood, neurology and mortality.
'The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a great book that had me utterly charmed. I had read many positive reviews of this one, and noted that it made it onto this summer's Richard and Judy Book Club list, but had no idea just how much I would enjoy it...Extence makes absolutely sure that from the first page you are not going to want to put this book down.'
'Poignant and hilarious'
'This charming, moving story follows his unusual journey into adulthood'