Thursday, July 11, 2013
The Universe Versus Alex Woods
Adult Contemporary Literary
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I initially thought this book was YA as it is shelved as such on goodreads but now that I have read it, I feel like that is inaccurate. On the one hand, the main character is a teenager reaching his seventeenth year during the course of this book. But on the other hand, age of the protagonist is not the only qualifier for a YA novel. Saying that, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I think there is definitely crossover appeal although I would be more inclined to shelve this as adult, when I compare it to the other YA books I've read.
The book opens in what I found to be a confusing manner but then jumps back in time to show how Alex reached that scene. This unfolds at a very leisurely pace so be prepared to invest some time. While events happen, I feel like this is more character-driven (it's Alex's coming of age story) and I was surprised by how much I ultimately liked it as the beginning had so dissatisfied me.
The jump back in time takes us to Alex being hit in the head with a meteorite and I thought that would be the focus. While this plays an important role in Alex's formation, it does not end up being the main plot, serving ultimately as more of a sidenote. That is another reason I struggled in the beginning-what is the point of this book? How exactly is the universe against Alex? Again though once the story begins moving in earnest, it really takes off and is absolutely gripping.
Alex is just the kind of character I like (and can really identify with.) He feels very out of step with his peers, preferring more introverted contemplative pastimes especially in the sciences (remember how he was hit on the head by a rock falling from space?), and seeking out the company of adults. Although I was never much into science, I have the other two traits and I appreciated Alex in all his awkwardness. There's also a character Ellie whose bluntness cracked me up. She is an important character but doesn't get much page time to my dismay.
Overall: A disorienting beginning and difficult categorization made the start of this book a tough read but I'm very glad I stuck to it. The humor and the way everything ties together were well worth it. I only wish I was more familiar with Kurt Vonnegut as this book pays significant tribute to him (and I've read a grand total of none of his books.)
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