The one good thing about being bed-ridden is having time to read (provided you’re not so ill you can’t even do that, of course), so last night I finished reading The Universe versus Alex Woods.
I enjoyed reading it and it drew some strong emotions from me – tears as well as laughter – and I’d recommend it as a great light read.
The voice used to narrate the story is of a naive 17 year old. Naive yet wise in a way that naivety can be in simply cutting to the truth. It reminded me a lot of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the narrator of which was someone with Asperger Syndrome. To a certain extent, I was too aware of the technique rather than being absorbed in the narration but that soon dissipated as the story progressed. The final few chapters don’t hold any great surprises in terms of plot – since the ending is sign-posted from the first chapter – but they’re still gripping and, on reflection, surprisingly deep and multi-layered. I think this is something the author, Gavin Extence, would be pleased to hear, given the heavy influence of Kurt Vonnegut on the storyline. I’m not at all familiar with Kurt Vonnegut’s work but from what I can tell from The Universe versus Alex Woods, there’s a lot of meaning that can be teased out from a seemingly simple story, and I’ll definitely be adding Kurt Vonnegut to the reading list.
For me, one of the measures of the quality of pop music is how much it makes you want to reach back into its influences, to go back to the source, and in making me want to read Kurt Vonnegut, The Universe versus Alex Woods is a great book by that measure of success.