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Game Changer

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All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it. Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own. The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’ All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it. Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own. The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes. And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…


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All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it. Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own. The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’ All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it. Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own. The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes. And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…

30 review for Game Changer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    2.5 stars It's understandable that a lot of authors are now grappling with the hot button issues in the world - racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. and want to express their new found feelings in their works. And a lot of these authors haven't exactly written on theses topics much before, like Shusterman. As you can imagine, these earnest works are... a mixed bag. Game Changer is a well-intentioned novel in which the author tried to address many ills of the current time, but he might have missed, in 2.5 stars It's understandable that a lot of authors are now grappling with the hot button issues in the world - racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. and want to express their new found feelings in their works. And a lot of these authors haven't exactly written on theses topics much before, like Shusterman. As you can imagine, these earnest works are... a mixed bag. Game Changer is a well-intentioned novel in which the author tried to address many ills of the current time, but he might have missed, in his zeal to condemn all the -isms, to notice that this book is basically a white savior narrative where a young, white, straight, popular football player mansplains a lot. Yes, I am a bit touchy on the subject, and maybe when I see more of the reviews when this book comes out, I will be proven to be unreasonably harsh, but at this moment I am wondering who is the intended audience of this book. Shusterman undoubtedly can pen a compulsively readable story, that's why I read it relatively quickly, but I cringed a lot too. Here is the gist - 17-year old Ash, while playing football, gets a concussion that gives him a strange power. Every time he is concussed, he can alter the universe. It starts small - at first, he just changes the color of stop signs, from red to blue. In the next world, his father becomes a successful football player making Ash a rich boy. However, in the next AU, Ash finds himself in a world where segregation is legal. And here is where this book started to lose me. As Ash moves from one AU to the next, he starts learning, through his personal experiences only, what racism, misogyny and homophobia are. You see, he starts understanding these issues only when they personally affect him, never from what he's seen and heard before in his first life. And, as any white savior story arc goes, he becomes a champion, an advocate, a respected and lauded HERO because he stands up to the bad things. He explains to us, readers, how much he, the white guy, knows about the suffering of people of color, queer people and women. You can guess how the novel ends. (view spoiler)[ Ash is literally the center of the universe and is able to revert the world to the original order and is told he would become the kind of person who changes the world for the better. Only 10th such person in the humanity's existence? He is SPECIAL! (hide spoiler)] I don't know, maybe I am wrong, and maybe there are readers who need to read story of a white guy finally understanding how others suffer and single-handedly saving the world. I am not one of those readers. Not right now. You got to read the room better, Neal.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Monogamist

    Ash is a normal (white privileged) high-school student. He plays for his school American football team on Friday and then goes for burgers with his friends. During one game, something goes incredibly wrong. He is used to taking massive tackles from adversaries, but when he is slumped against the field and bumps his head, he feels something is different. He dismisses the headache and concussion scare as normality, considering the sport. He starts to slowly notice that after this tackle a few thin Ash is a normal (white privileged) high-school student. He plays for his school American football team on Friday and then goes for burgers with his friends. During one game, something goes incredibly wrong. He is used to taking massive tackles from adversaries, but when he is slumped against the field and bumps his head, he feels something is different. He dismisses the headache and concussion scare as normality, considering the sport. He starts to slowly notice that after this tackle a few things changed in his reality. Soon Ash discovers he has entered an alternate universe, and he has to find a way to bring his life and his friends back to “normality”. I had to think about this book for a while and I also read others reviews. I know this book will be problematic for some readers and I expect lots of heated debates about it in the readers/bloggers community. I personally enjoyed this book and I have a positive opinion about this story. I think, sometimes we tend to read too much into a story and we miss the big picture. I don’t think this is simply a story about a white privileged guy who wants to save the world from racism, homophobia or sexual violence as I saw it described in a few reviews. I really doubt this was the writer’s intentions. I think this is a story about a guy who wants to save the world – his own world. His world with his best friends, his family, his brother and all the people he loves in it. Because at the end Ash himself says “I would never truly be able to see things from his point of view” referring to his best friend Leo, who is black. He also says “[…] at least I was no longer a carrier in the epidemic of ignorance.” And that’s it. It’s about recognising that as white privileged people, we will never fully understand minorities’ perspective, but at least we shouldn’t live in ignorance and pretend racism, homophobia or even sexual violence don’t exist. In the end, I prefer looking at the big picture and focusing more on the final message from Ash, that makes me fully appreciate this story. That we are all part of something “universally” bigger than what we can fully understand, there are bigger forces at play and beyond us. The best we can do is to live a humble life and be kind to each other. Because “basically, we are idiots from a universal perspective.” You can read this review and more on the Monogamist Reader Blog

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    No idea what this is beyond NEW NEAL SHUSTERMAN

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Baker

    Meh...entertaining, but I didn't love it. Nice narration. As far as stories with multiple universes, it's not my favorite. Meh...entertaining, but I didn't love it. Nice narration. As far as stories with multiple universes, it's not my favorite.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc. I am deeply delighted to read another one of Neal's books, and forever indebted to this platform for allowing me to read them ahead of their release dates. I originally marked this book as a DNF, but had to go back to it. LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED! I believe part of the low rating was that I recently came off of reading The Toll, and I was in the mindset that I was getting something along those lines, or perhaps something like Unwind. The overall Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for the e-arc. I am deeply delighted to read another one of Neal's books, and forever indebted to this platform for allowing me to read them ahead of their release dates. I originally marked this book as a DNF, but had to go back to it. LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED! I believe part of the low rating was that I recently came off of reading The Toll, and I was in the mindset that I was getting something along those lines, or perhaps something like Unwind. The overall premise has been done before, most recently in a YA contemporary romance, but in this case, we have a straight white male who falls into an alternate world where Ash takes on racial, sexual, drugs, abuse etc and learns how bad those things are as a male with privilege. Although I feel like I know Neal's attempt came from a good place, I did feel like it was lacking something for me to get past the white savior thingie. Now, I know this is NOT a book with a white savior, and I did read the ending twice to get on a different mindset, but perhaps if the story had been fleshed out a bit more, it would have been clearer for a lot of people. There are a lot of hot button issues being addressed but they feel glazed over too quickly to make an impact. I think this might miss the mark, and result in some lower ratings because of that. If you're looking for something like Scythe or Unwind, you won't find it. I love his work, but this one missed the mark for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ivana - Diary of Difference

    Wishlist | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Ko-fi After reading all the books in the Arc of a Scythe series and loving them all, I couldn’t say no to a new Neal Shusterman book. After all, his writing is magnificent. I am so thankful to Hanna from SparkPoint Studio, for providing me with an e-arc Netgalley copy of Game Changer. Synopsis: Ash is a football player. And by football player, I mean hand-egg player. He plays rugby. You get my point. Anytime he takes a hit on the field, his lif Wishlist | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Ko-fi After reading all the books in the Arc of a Scythe series and loving them all, I couldn’t say no to a new Neal Shusterman book. After all, his writing is magnificent. I am so thankful to Hanna from SparkPoint Studio, for providing me with an e-arc Netgalley copy of Game Changer. Synopsis: Ash is a football player. And by football player, I mean hand-egg player. He plays rugby. You get my point. Anytime he takes a hit on the field, his life changes. He moves into another dimension, or an alternative reality, where things are slightly different from his previous reality. At first, his changes are small and insignificant. However, they quickly turn into universes where society is stuck in the past and he finds himself looking at life with an entirely different perception. And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence… My Thoughts: The reason I loved all the Arc of a Scythe books were mainly because of Neal Shusterman’s writing, ability for storytelling and incredible world-building. The writing in Game Changer was great, and the idea about the alternative universes was phenomenal! I was hooked, and it was quite easy to get into. I read it very quickly and enjoyed reading it overall. However, the world building and the entire plot somewhat lacked purpose. This was the main thing I struggled with through the entire book. Neal Shusterman takes on many important topics, and through Ash, he covers these as he moves into each alternate universe. He faces a world where segregation is normal. A world where his sexual orientation changes, and even a world where he wakes up one day as a woman. Alongside these changes, there are other changes as well, like drug dealing, trying to help a person that might be in an abusive relationship, even eliminating people along the way with no consequences. All of these topics are extremely important, and each of these need to be talked about. There need to be books that cover these issues, and I am glad this book exists because of that reason. Because at least people, especially young readers, will be aware of these issues if they pick up this book. However, I think that because of the way this book was set up, and how quickly Ash moves from one universe to another, the issues don’t really get resolved. Even by the end, where he ends up being the hero, he hasn’t really fixed anything, or raised any awareness. It ends up with the “Meh, it could’ve been much worse (because I’ve been in the alternate universes, and trust me, I know)”. And this didn’t sit well with me at all. I rooted for him to make a change for everyone that is impacted. Not just for himself, and when it affected him. I wanted him to fight for his best friend, when Leo got separated from him in the universe where segregation was legal. And I wanted him to keep fighting, but he didn’t really even try. And no, organising a high-school dance party that includes black people is not considered helping when one of your friends is in prison for no apparent reason. I just expected more from Ash… However, considering how complicated of a character Ash is, and how much he seems to be unaware and uninterested in general issues, unless it directly affects him, it made me think that perhaps, this was Neal’s point all along? Create a character like him to provoke a discussion, provoke a reaction, and show us that we need to play our part in society as well if we want true changes. I want to think that this is the case, and for that, I would still recommend it to young readers. Game Changer is nothing like the Arc of a Scythe series. But it will make you think about important topics such as racism and sexuality. Even though I wasn’t quite satisfied with Game Changer, I still think it’s a very important read. Especially for the current and future generations. And I hope that some day, this book will age in a way where the issues that are covered will be redundant.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gwendolyn Kensinger

    updated 2/20/21 After having some more in depth discussions with friends and having access to the author commentary at the back of some editions I am raising my star rating by 1 star. I am now sitting at a 3 star rating and I feel good about that. *for fans of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, and Every Day by David Leviathan* tw/cw: racism (challenged), racial slurs, racist microaggressions (challenged), racial segregation, white supremacy (challenged), assault, sexism (challenged), unjust incarcerati updated 2/20/21 After having some more in depth discussions with friends and having access to the author commentary at the back of some editions I am raising my star rating by 1 star. I am now sitting at a 3 star rating and I feel good about that. *for fans of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, and Every Day by David Leviathan* tw/cw: racism (challenged), racial slurs, racist microaggressions (challenged), racial segregation, white supremacy (challenged), assault, sexism (challenged), unjust incarceration, gaslighting, abusive relationship (both emotionally and physically), discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation (challenged), homophobia (challenged), forced outing of gay character, hate crimes, attempted murder, blood, PTSD, death of a loved one, drug use (off page), selling drugs I see what Shusterman was trying to do, but I don't think it was quite so successful. For trying to tackle racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. I think there was too much time spent with the issues of Katie and Landon (head cheerleader and football quarterback) and what may or may not be happening between them. That is also an important topic, and I do not think it was handled well at all. There were too many issues being addressed without enough impact. That is why personally I am finding it harder and harder to read YA books that tackle issues like these. I saw another reviewer (https://bit.ly/3pcDBz0) say that it was basically a "white savior narrative where a young, white, straight, popular football player mansplains a lot" and I think it 100% accurate. It was super cringe to read about someone pretending to know or understand the suffering of people of color, queer people, & women because they spent a few days as one. I did appreciate how Shusterman went the extra mile to write about lesser known events in history, and lesser known people of color, etc. He's writing about the things they don't teach you in history class. The reason it's getting 2 stars is all due to the writing. Shusterman uses all the right words, phrases, sentences, and weaves them together into a masterpiece. I just wish the story itself was more thought out. Maybe a few more rounds of edits would have truly benefitted the message, because as it was it was quite unclear. Although I do think at its core its about empathy and kindness.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sacha

    Thanks to NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I’ll post that full review upon publication. For now, I will add that while I have thoroughly enjoyed many of Shusterman’s previous works, this one really rubbed me the wrong way. I will get into detail about why in the forthcoming review, but I do not recommend this novel, even to incoming fans of this author. Updated 2/11/21 I am a huge fan of several of Shusterman's works, and I am constan Thanks to NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I’ll post that full review upon publication. For now, I will add that while I have thoroughly enjoyed many of Shusterman’s previous works, this one really rubbed me the wrong way. I will get into detail about why in the forthcoming review, but I do not recommend this novel, even to incoming fans of this author. Updated 2/11/21 I am a huge fan of several of Shusterman's works, and I am constantly recommending them to students in my college-level children's literature courses. My vocal love for/interest in these works is what also accounts for my shock at the quality and content of this one. This book did not work for me, so much so that I actually found it offensive. The main character - Ashley, who usually goes by Ash - is a white, cis, male identifying high schooler who is best known for his prowess on the football field. THIS is whose story I need more of now? Yeesh. Readers learn - not long into the novel - that this character has "now become the center of the universe," which feels disappointing and on brand for this archetype, not revolutionary at all. The idea that the universe centers on this kid - with this particular set of identities - is fine (if a little too real), but his "wise" pontifications and his young mansplaining of everything from what felt like the perspective of a great grandpa on a porch swing was weird and creepy to me. Sometimes, I get essays from very new college students that include the word "Nowadays," and this odd juxtaposition of a young but falsely wise speaker gave me strong "Nowadays" vibes: very bad. I did not appreciate the content of any of Ash's revelations. He apparently is no longer under the veil of ignorance. It is Ash who can save us all. Thankfully, we have him to explain the experience of women, people of color, and queer people. WHAT?! When I next tout the greatness of Shusterman's novels to my students, I will now - sadly - add a strong caveat: all but this one. I'll come back to Shusterman's work, but this made me sad and grossed me out a lot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Martin Gancarczyk

    Ouch. White straight cis dude protagonist explaining PoC, queer people and women how their daily struggles are to fix. Shame, because I really like the author, but this book was so so insensitive with such important topics. I get why publishers might think it’s a good idea to go the »straight white awaking« road, but for me it’s just wrong. I’m just over this white-straight-dude saviour trope stuff. I’m just so over white characters saving black characters or straight ones saving queer people. Or Ouch. White straight cis dude protagonist explaining PoC, queer people and women how their daily struggles are to fix. Shame, because I really like the author, but this book was so so insensitive with such important topics. I get why publishers might think it’s a good idea to go the »straight white awaking« road, but for me it’s just wrong. I’m just over this white-straight-dude saviour trope stuff. I’m just so over white characters saving black characters or straight ones saving queer people. Or like in this book the white straight saviour being the shining hero for all the minorities... Just give us a voice and let our heroes save themselves.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bismah

    When I read the premise for this book, I was super intrigued and excited: a book about the multiverse from the same author who wrote the Arc of a Scythe series? Count. Me. In. Unfortunately, after reading this book, I'm left with a lot of mixed feelings about it. This book is plagued by the same problems I had with The Toll in that I feel that the author, in his attempts to be progressive, tried to tackle important issues albeit unsuccessfully. Here there was a lot of emphasis put on the topi When I read the premise for this book, I was super intrigued and excited: a book about the multiverse from the same author who wrote the Arc of a Scythe series? Count. Me. In. Unfortunately, after reading this book, I'm left with a lot of mixed feelings about it. This book is plagued by the same problems I had with The Toll in that I feel that the author, in his attempts to be progressive, tried to tackle important issues albeit unsuccessfully. Here there was a lot of emphasis put on the topics of sexism, homophobia, and racism but it all just felt very forced and underdeveloped. There was something about it that just didn't come together, at least for me. I understand the whole "You can't understand a person until you walk in their shoes", but it just boggles my mind that Ash literally had to (view spoiler)[ witness segregation firsthand, experience homophobia as a gay man, and experience misogyny/sexism as a woman to understand those issues. Ash shouldn't have to go to the extremes to realize that just because he doesn't have the same problems that other people do, that those problems don't exist. (hide spoiler)] Another huge problem I had was with the handling of Katie. Throughout the entirety of the story, it was clear that Katie was in an abusive relationship yet nothing was done about it. Other characters including Ash himself put blame on Katie for being in the position she was in. Not only that, but it seemed to be that the only reason why Ash even cared about Katie's relationship with Layton was because he was interested in Katie himself. (view spoiler)[ Even at the end (when Ash himself experienced what it was like to be in a relationship with someone like Layton) when it was foreshadowed that Katie would be stuck in her relationship, Ash only lamented on the possible relationship he and Katie could have had in another universe. (hide spoiler)] Again, while the concept of the book itself was fascinating and unique, the poor execution of this novel can be chalked up to the author wanting to tackle way too many social issues but not having the time to really give any of these issues the development/nuance they deserve.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bex

    I appreciate what Shusterman was trying to do here, and he does do a lot of it well, but there are so many things trying to be addressed at once that it becomes a watered down commentary on the flaws of society (racism, homophobia, sexism etc), instead of really hitting where it hurts. Game Changer centres upon 17 year old Ash, a football player who gets concussion and suddenly starts to see his life a little differently, then a lot differently, and then discovers he may have more of a say in wha I appreciate what Shusterman was trying to do here, and he does do a lot of it well, but there are so many things trying to be addressed at once that it becomes a watered down commentary on the flaws of society (racism, homophobia, sexism etc), instead of really hitting where it hurts. Game Changer centres upon 17 year old Ash, a football player who gets concussion and suddenly starts to see his life a little differently, then a lot differently, and then discovers he may have more of a say in what it looks like than the average kid. What I did really enjoy about this book was that Ash was a really interesting perspective, because he was confused and experiencing the development of those confusions as they developed alongside us. This meant that every new piece of information or eye-opening moment was shared with the main character and the reader; which is just awesome. Equally, I liked that Ash wasn't the typical heroic white guy, and instead is quite self critical and often able to see the flaws ingrained into him by society. Unfortunately he is also particularly ignorant most of the time, but I think that's sort of the point! What I don't like is that there are too many issues being addressed without enough impact and too few realistic explanations for what is happening. I like being confused, I like that I can't trust Shusterman because that's one of the main attractions I have to his writing, but this one didn't surprise me the way his other work often does. ARC provided from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    BookNightOwl

    I love going into Neal shusterman's world and getting a great read out of it. I was so excited to pick this up and it did not disappoint. A from me! I love going into Neal shusterman's world and getting a great read out of it. I was so excited to pick this up and it did not disappoint. A from me!

  13. 4 out of 5

    ❀ Alex ❀ (The Scribe Owl)

    See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! This was a buddy read with the ever-stellar Emily! 2.5/5 stars This is actually what I guessed my rating would be going into this read. But it was the new Neal Shusterman book, so I still had to give it a shot! This is a little hard to explain. The concept of the book was well-intentioned and earnest, but it didn't quite hit the mark for me. No matter how sincerely penned Game Cha See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! This was a buddy read with the ever-stellar Emily! 2.5/5 stars This is actually what I guessed my rating would be going into this read. But it was the new Neal Shusterman book, so I still had to give it a shot! This is a little hard to explain. The concept of the book was well-intentioned and earnest, but it didn't quite hit the mark for me. No matter how sincerely penned Game Changer was, it still didn't come across quite right. I'll get into the meat of the story in a moment, but can I take a second to appreciate Neal's writing skills? He could write a textbook or something and I'd still read it purely for his writing style alone. The best word to describe the way he writes would be fluid. It can match situations ranging all the way from serious to humorous and still work. I would call the prose the best part of this book. Game Changer has some sci-fi elements in it, but that doesn't make it a completely sci-fi book. Those elements take a backseat to the other issues addressed within its pages. If you're here for the action of Scythe or Unwind, you won't find it here. After the writing style, things started to go a little downhill. Game Changer is supposed to be a story about empathy, and it definitely tries. And at some points in the novel, it comes across. But most of the time? Not so much. As some of the other reviews have said, it seems like while it tries to be reflective, it ends up coming across almost as a lecture. While Game Changer might not have been for me, I appreciate Neal Shusterman's courage in writing it. He touches on topics that are hot and a little dangerous right now, which is more than I'd ever have the guts to do. I'm even a little cautious just wording this review. All in all, while a well-intended novel, Game Changer landed just a little off the mark. Neal Shusterman's fantastic writing style kept it together the best it could, but in the end, that's not the most important part.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aly

    I will read anything by Neal Shusterman and was so excited to start this. These books are always thought provoking and address important issues, plus the plots are unique and interesting. I did like this, the pacing was great and I stayed engaged the entire time. I think Shusterman tried to talk about too many issues and it was a bit preachy. Some of the things mentioned were abuse, racism, sexism, and homophobia. These are all important and I agreed with the messages, but it was a bit overwhelm I will read anything by Neal Shusterman and was so excited to start this. These books are always thought provoking and address important issues, plus the plots are unique and interesting. I did like this, the pacing was great and I stayed engaged the entire time. I think Shusterman tried to talk about too many issues and it was a bit preachy. Some of the things mentioned were abuse, racism, sexism, and homophobia. These are all important and I agreed with the messages, but it was a bit overwhelming. Ash accidentally winds up in a cycle of changing universes where things seem to get worse with each shift. It starts with Ash dealing drugs, then escalates to segregation and a lot of racism. As Ash steps into new shoes, he does evolve and I appreciated his character development. He seemed to learn from each universe and became a better person. If everyone could see things from another person's perspective, the world would be a more accepting place for sure. I agreed with the take on the issues the author brought up. Racism, sexism, and homophobia exist in our current world, even in small things. As a society, there's a lot we can do to end these things and everyone should stand up to injustices they witness. This is great, but it was shoved in our faces again and again and I think we could have used more plot and less messages. I listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it. The narrators do a fantastic job and help you dive into the world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kat // Novels & Waffles

    *eARC provided by the publisher for my honest review.* For most people, Game Changer will be like a game of archery – it'll either hit home or miss the target completely. But whether or not the sum of its parts works for you, at the end of the day this book is one man's honest attempt to use his platform and his voice to call for change. It is a well-intentioned, earnest plea for a universe that's a little kinder, a little more empathetic, and a little more accepting. And while I'm not 100% sure *eARC provided by the publisher for my honest review.* For most people, Game Changer will be like a game of archery – it'll either hit home or miss the target completely. But whether or not the sum of its parts works for you, at the end of the day this book is one man's honest attempt to use his platform and his voice to call for change. It is a well-intentioned, earnest plea for a universe that's a little kinder, a little more empathetic, and a little more accepting. And while I'm not 100% sure if this was a hit or miss for me personally, I appreciate the courage it took to put it out into the world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joan He

    the cover is everything and if anyone can get me to read about football, it's neal shusterman the cover is everything and if anyone can get me to read about football, it's neal shusterman

  17. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Foster

    In Game Changer, Neal Shusterman takes on a topic that I wish more YA novels would tackle (football pun intended): privilege, and specifically the process that many privileged folks go through of discovering that 1. the world is not just and 2. it's unjust in your favor. Ash is a white, straight, male, able-bodied football player, but a quirk in the space-time continuum soon introduces him to the lived experience of identities he'd only ever observed from a distance. As he spins through parallel In Game Changer, Neal Shusterman takes on a topic that I wish more YA novels would tackle (football pun intended): privilege, and specifically the process that many privileged folks go through of discovering that 1. the world is not just and 2. it's unjust in your favor. Ash is a white, straight, male, able-bodied football player, but a quirk in the space-time continuum soon introduces him to the lived experience of identities he'd only ever observed from a distance. As he spins through parallel universes that range from mildly disorientating to deeply troubling, he changes in ways both visible (new money, new sexual orientation, new gender) and invisible (new understanding of abuse, new relationship with his brother), eventually returning "home" with a far more expansive comprehension of himself and of the people around him. If it sounds a little pat, that's because it is. One of the things that seems tough about writing about privilege from the inside, and maybe one of the reasons relatively few authors choose to attempt it, is because it inherently centers the story on the character who is mostly likely to get top billing anyway. For most of the book, Ash is literally the center of the universe, and while that seems like a pretty uncomfortable place to be for him, a less-than-generous summary of this book might be: a black kid, a gay kid, and a girl help to facilitate the emotional development of a privileged white boy, helping him to become more empathetic. The tough thing is that this is exactly how many of us do learn about our privilege, by having it pointed out to us by people whose identities we don't share, or by entering spaces where our identities are not glorified in the way that we're used to. At its best, Game Changer explores the way that our universe changes all the time, even without the help of multidimensional beings. We learn something new about ourselves or about each other, we get a little less selfish and a little more curious, and suddenly we're able to see the world anew. As a teacher of mostly white students in an overwhelmingly white state, I am constantly on the lookout for stories that will help my white students start this process without unfairly burdening students of color, and I can absolutely appreciate Game Changer as an effort in the right direction, imperfect though it may be. And I'm grateful that Shusterman is the one writing this story, which, like all his books, is face-paced and animated by compelling and believable young people even if it does sometimes feel like a vehicle for an afterschool special. I will buy this book for my classroom when it is published, as I do all of Shusterman's novels. That said, the audience for this book does feel necessarily limited by its subject matter. It's hard for me to imagine my black and/or gay students having much patience for a story about a kid realizing that the world really is pretty crappy for folks with marginalized identities and that he should work harder to fix it. I also anticipate that other educators will likely have different responses to the book—frankly, I'm excited for the way that talking about it might help me to recognize some of my own blindspots. Game Changer isn't perfect, but the conversations it seems poised to inspire are ones we desperately need to be having. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for the ARC!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Ashby

    I hate to give only two stars to a Shusterman book as he is one of my favorite authors, but the more I think about this one the more disgruntled I'm feeling about it. When describing his books to others I have said for a long time that I feel like the books fall into two categories: really well written and thoughtful OR not as deep/kinda cheesy(?) stories that are just fun to read. The latter description mostly applies to his earlier work such as Red Rider's Hood or Eyes of Kid Midas. As I start I hate to give only two stars to a Shusterman book as he is one of my favorite authors, but the more I think about this one the more disgruntled I'm feeling about it. When describing his books to others I have said for a long time that I feel like the books fall into two categories: really well written and thoughtful OR not as deep/kinda cheesy(?) stories that are just fun to read. The latter description mostly applies to his earlier work such as Red Rider's Hood or Eyes of Kid Midas. As I started this book it seemed to be a throwback to that earlier style - sci fi action/adventure. But the more I got into it the more it started to feel like a book that was trying to hit all the hot topics in a not subtle enough way. I was already somewhat unhappy with Ash's story when I got to the shift where he became gay and that did me in. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I can say that Ash's sudden shift to a gay man and his reaction to that did not ring true to me. I appreciate the character's acceptance of who he was and Shusterman's intent with that section, but I'm not buying it. Luckily, there are quite a few books that have gay representation now (unlike when I was growing up) that I can now be fussy about representation. But back to the book as a whole, not just that one personal issue - I had a hard time getting through it and feeling much involvement in any of the alternate worlds. It just didn't deliver for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John Moore

    *disclaimer: I work for Neal’s publisher* This book is something else. Not at all what I expected from the blurb but it is classic Neal Shusterman Sci-Fi excellence with more heart than I’ve seen in his books before. It tackles race, sexuality, sexism, all in a wonderfully mad parallel universe jumping meets American Football mash up. You’re all going to love it in February next year.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Game Changer is, as every Neal Shusterman novel is, quite the thought provoking story. It features Ash, a young man who has a pretty solid life. He's on the football team, has a lot of friends, he's a straight, cis, white guy from a middle class family. Basically, things are going fairly smoothly for Ash. Until, that is, he finds himself with a concussion and a slightly altered universe. You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Game Changer is, as every Neal Shusterman novel is, quite the thought provoking story. It features Ash, a young man who has a pretty solid life. He's on the football team, has a lot of friends, he's a straight, cis, white guy from a middle class family. Basically, things are going fairly smoothly for Ash. Until, that is, he finds himself with a concussion and a slightly altered universe. At first, the changes appear minor. A different colored stop sign, a slightly different history. But as Ash traverses the universes via football field hits, he finds that things get pretty dicey. He enters worlds in which POC are treated even worse than they are in his home world (presumably, our world), and in some, things are still so bad that he doesn't know his best friend, a young black man, because segregation is still a thing and they had never met. In some worlds, Ash finds that he is no longer a straight man, and he has a boyfriend who he loves very much. Basically, the gist of the story is that as the universes change, so does Ash's worldview in general. I am going to break it down, because while I did find the story quite enjoyable and thought provoking, I have seen some complaints that have merit and I'd like to address. What I Loved: ►Ash growing and learning, of course. Obviously, we cannot go around hitting obtuse white guys in the head every time we'd like to teach them something, so there's that. But in seriousness, he does learn a lot from his journey. Sometimes he's put into someone else's shoes literally, but sometimes he just gets a more in-depth view, perhaps a wake-up call, as to what the fates of his friends would be if things were just a little different. ►Ash's friends were just the best, and Ash had to navigate his relationships in every world. Leo is my favorite, I adore Leo. He's Ash's best friend, and he's just awesome. He tells Ash like it is, he's smart and funny, and I just loved him. Katie, Ash's other friend/maybe-crush (depending on the world) also tells Ash like it is. She's dealing with a lot of her own stuff, which I won't give away, but she's trying to figure out Ash's mystery all while navigating a really unhealthy relationship. And Ash's family changes wildly with each universe, and I liked that he often had to stand up to his parents in various universes, trying to make them see the error of their ways. ►It's an entertaining story! I mean, I was excited to find out what was happening to Ash and/or the world too! Why is this happening? Or, more specifically, why is it happening to Ash? Can it be stopped? There's a lot of questions, and when we get an answer, it generally unlocks a new question, which is fun. ►It's incredibly thought provoking. I mean, how could the reader not wonder who we would be in a different universe, where perhaps we have a different level of privilege, a different worldview? Ash takes us along while he grapples with answering these very questions. The Messy Stuff: ►So, I have read a lot of reviews that mention that there were so many topics tackled in such a short time period that perhaps none were done justice. I have also seen some talk of the "white savior" trope, and I wanted to address both. Yes, there are a lot of topics. And I understand the criticism in that regard. For me, I felt like since these are all hugely important in our world, it made sense to include them all in Ash's journey, for the sole fact that I think it may have been irresponsible to not touch on them? In regard to the "white savior" trope... I get it. I don't think that is the intention, or even necessarily the case, because I think the whole point of the story was not for Ash to try to save the world, but rather saving himself by being more sympathetic and understanding, by becoming a real ally. The author even addresses the trope at one point in a conversation where Ash even tries to act like he's the savior, and Leo has to remind him that he is very not. And so while I understand the concern (hell, it was a concern I had mid-reading as well!), I felt that it didn't necessarily take that route. Bottom Line: Incredibly thought-provoking and encompassing a lot of hard-hitting (pun absolutely intended) issues, I quite enjoyed Game Changer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. TW: homophobia, racism, sexism. domestic abuse, emotional abuse, controlling behaviour, concussions, violence, victim blaming, drug dealing Firstly i'd like to say thank you to Quill Tree Books to reaching out to me and granting me access to Game Changer on NetGalley. All opinions discussed here are my own. This is such a hard rating and review to write because I absolutely adored the Scythe series by Neal Shusterman and so I was really eager to get into Game Changer... but it just did not work f TW: homophobia, racism, sexism. domestic abuse, emotional abuse, controlling behaviour, concussions, violence, victim blaming, drug dealing Firstly i'd like to say thank you to Quill Tree Books to reaching out to me and granting me access to Game Changer on NetGalley. All opinions discussed here are my own. This is such a hard rating and review to write because I absolutely adored the Scythe series by Neal Shusterman and so I was really eager to get into Game Changer... but it just did not work for me. I think the concept was really interesting but the execution was just not well done and I found it an uncomfortable read at times. I think Shusterman had good intentions when writing this book but it just didn't come across well. Shusterman tries to tackle racism, homophobia, and feminism - all through the lense of a straight, white, male. Firstly, I think when trying to tackle so many important issues in one fictional book is always going to be difficult because inevitably you cannot give enough focus to each topic as it deserves so it felt like a pit-stop tour of the -ism's without really dealing with any of them in a positive or enhanced way. Secondly, the fact that our character is a white, straight, male really just doesn't help. I think a lot of people have had enough of the 'white saviour' trope that is portrayed over and over again in books, films, and TV shows. Whilst I don't think that was really Shusterman's intention it just came across that way for me. Ash, our main character, moves from universe to universe - in one becoming a gay male and in another a straight female - and it is only once this happens that he begins to learn and understand about homophobia and sexism. Not through what he sees around him every day or what he's told by those around him... only when it personally affects him does he start to learn. Ash says it multiple times throughout this book that his best friend Leo, who is Black, has tried to speak with him multiple times about racism and microaggressions but it's only when he's in a world when segregation is still a thing that he pays attention. I don't know, I just found this frustrating. It shouldn't take this for Ash to understand what is going on in the world around him. And in these other worlds Ash does step up to speak out against things, but each and every time he becomes a Hero and is lauded. I really get the message that Shusterman was trying to send but it just didn't work for me. There is also far too much victim blaming of Katie; our main characters best friend/love interest (depending on what world he's in), who is in a relationship with Layton (another friend of Ash) who is clearly emotionally abusive and controlling. Ash in the first world only really cares about this because he wants Katie to break up with him so Ash can ask her out... there are multiple incidents of Ash questioning Katie as to why she won't leave him, repeatedly asking her about it and not listening to her, and other characters saying Katie knew what she was getting into. And at the end of the book... Katie has to remain with Layton because he's paralysed and she can't be the girl to dump the guy who's been paralysed. I just, this didn't sit well with me at all and Layton never really gets and comeuppance for his behaviour - unless Shusterman intended the paralysis to be his comeuppance. It brings me back to my first point of the author trying to tackle too many issues without giving any of them enough depth or focus. Sadly this wasn't a book I loved and there is no-one more disappointed than me! Out 7th February for you to make up your own mind.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Full disclosure: #NealShusterman is one of my favorite authors of all time, so I have been looking forward to #GameChanger, and it did NOT disappoint. The book follows Ash, a high school football player who--every time he gets hit--finds himself transported into other universe or timeline where there is always something different from the one before. As this is an advanced release, I will not give away any spoilers. However, like all Shusterman novels, and what makes him so great, is that he tak Full disclosure: #NealShusterman is one of my favorite authors of all time, so I have been looking forward to #GameChanger, and it did NOT disappoint. The book follows Ash, a high school football player who--every time he gets hit--finds himself transported into other universe or timeline where there is always something different from the one before. As this is an advanced release, I will not give away any spoilers. However, like all Shusterman novels, and what makes him so great, is that he takes a thread of modern truth or social criticism and sees it through to a logical conclusion. "OK, if this is true, then what if..." This book covers topics such as racism, socioeconomic bias, white privilege, gender issues, sexuality, abuse, morality, and more--all while asking the reader to also investigate their beliefs on each topic. This is not one to miss. Many thanks to the publishers and #NetGalley for the advanced copy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle (MichelleReadsYA)

    Dnf 72% in. I listened to this for so long because I really thought it had to get better but it never did.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    My usual reading zones are international and literary fiction but YA dystopian fiction is my guilty secret. I've read the first three of Neal Shusterman's Unwind series and all of his Arc of the Scythe series, so I was first in line with my hand up shouting "Me, me, me" when Game Changer was on offer. Game Changer is a diversion from Shusterman's dystopian worlds - although it does, perhaps, offer the absurd and unpleasant aspects of the world around us today, holding them up for greater examina My usual reading zones are international and literary fiction but YA dystopian fiction is my guilty secret. I've read the first three of Neal Shusterman's Unwind series and all of his Arc of the Scythe series, so I was first in line with my hand up shouting "Me, me, me" when Game Changer was on offer. Game Changer is a diversion from Shusterman's dystopian worlds - although it does, perhaps, offer the absurd and unpleasant aspects of the world around us today, holding them up for greater examination. Ash is a high school student playing on the football team - American football, not the real stuff - who has a pretty ordinary life right up to the point it becomes completely unordinary. Life's about family, modest home, good friends, doing OK at school but probably not setting the world on fire. Then everything changes. Ash takes a bad hit on the football field and suddenly the world changes. First, it's weird little things - stop signs are blue instead of red - but as the book progresses, he moves into a series of parallel universes in which each brings something different. The book looks at money, drug-selling, racial segregation, homosexuality, sexism and more. It does this in a way that never gets TOO preachy but does occasionally get a bit repetitive. Same characters, just little tweaks each time. It reminded me of Groundhog Day - different worlds, very similar stuff, no way of getting out of the cycle or repetition and revision. Can Ash get back to something like normal or will his spiralling world of weirdness destroy him and everybody around him? I enjoyed the book, but I didn't LOVE it the way I've loved the Unwind and Scythe books. I hope it will make YA readers - especially those of the 'right' age rather than old ladies like me - stop and think about the abherrent behaviours around them every day and encourage readers to stick up for what's right against what's normal. Honestly, I prefer the dystopian novels more because they give Shusterman the opportunity to challenge and educate readers in a broader way (think of all the Scythes and the great and the good or evil and bad who inspired their Scythe names - lots of opportunities to go off and look up more about the people). I have 'Challenger Deep' on loan from the library ebook service so I'll be heading for that book shortly'. I suspect 'Game Changer' won't stay with me long term, the way his other books do but I hope many will enjoy it. For those who care, there's a bit of swearing (honestly, if you write about teenagers, how can you leave it out?) but it's not prolific. Sex is hinted at rather than explicit and homosexuality is nothing more than holding hands and kissing. Drug selling is touched upon from the point of view of the risk of getting involved rather than the risk of using. It's all pretty 'vanilla' as it probably needs to be for this age range. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC. It's not a bit hit with me, but it won't put me off reading everything else Shusterman writes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    New Neal Shusterman?!? [image error] I have no idea what this is about but I already know I'm going to love it. New Neal Shusterman?!? [image error] I have no idea what this is about but I already know I'm going to love it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    Ash Bowman is a straight, white, 17-year-old male, a lineman on the high school football team, son of working class parents, a good student, and a good friend. He considers himself pretty woke, not particularly a social activist, but sensitive and caring, and certainly not making the world any worse. As the book starts, in the middle of a high school football game during a particular hard tackle, Ash has a weird sensation, but it’s over in a moment. Probably just the impact from the tackle, nothi Ash Bowman is a straight, white, 17-year-old male, a lineman on the high school football team, son of working class parents, a good student, and a good friend. He considers himself pretty woke, not particularly a social activist, but sensitive and caring, and certainly not making the world any worse. As the book starts, in the middle of a high school football game during a particular hard tackle, Ash has a weird sensation, but it’s over in a moment. Probably just the impact from the tackle, nothing to worry about. It’s not until Ash is driving home and nearly gets hit by a truck in an intersection that he realizes something is wrong. The friend in the passenger seat points out that Ash blew through a stop sign. Impossible, Ash thinks, until he gets to the next intersection and sees the familiar shape of a stop sign — but it’s blue. And to everyone but Ash, that’s completely normal. Stop signs have always been blue. Ash knows something is wrong, but can’t pinpoint what. But at the next football game, during his next hard tackle, there’s another strange moment, and this time, there’s an even bigger shift in reality. When he heads to the parking lot, instead of his beat-up old car, Ash realizes that he drives a BMW. Rather than living in a poorer part of town, his family now lives in a gated community. Rather than leaving behind his football dreams in high school Ash’s dad is a retired NFL star who now owns a successful business chain, and the family lives in luxury. And once again, Ash is the only person who remembers that the world was once different, although those closest to him seem to have some almost-memories that they can’t quite explain. With each impact at each game, Ash’s world shifts further and further from his own. He finds changes within himself, as well as in the world around him. Ash suddenly finds himself needing to confront racism, homophobia, and sexism in ways that were never quite as immediate in his original life. And as he learns to control the shifts, he faces a dilemma — does he continue to aim for a better world, or to go back to his own flawed world and try to be a voice for change? The hows and whys of Game Changer have to do with some sci-fi mumbo jumbo that’s fun but not all that important. It’s not meant to be real quantum physics or anything, just a bit of hand-waving to set up the story and what happens. And that’s okay. The mechanics behind Ash’s world-shifting aren’t what matter here — the heart of the story is about Ash standing in different versions of his life and finally understanding other perspectives from the inside. Some of these realizations are a little simplistic, as he lives out the concept of walking in someone else’s shoes. Still, it’s interesting to see this character, who’s always considered himself one of the good guys, come to grips with what it’s like to be someone else, what it’s like to lose privilege, and finally get what a friend has been telling him over the years — you can’t explain someone else’s experiences to them if you’re not them. (view spoiler)[I do need to add that some of Ash's experiences verge uncomfortably close to savior-ism. In a life where Ash is a girl, he suddenly "gets" what being on the receiving end of daily leers, emotional abuse, and other sexist crap is all about. In a life where he's gay, he inadvertently becomes the poster child for coming out, even as he drags someone else out along with him. There's something disquieting about hearing from someone who hasn't actually lived that life what those oppressions feel like, even though it's obviously well-intentioned. At least the author didn't go there with race, thank goodness -- Ash's closest friend in his "real" life is Black, and has to remind Ash more than once not to try to explain away the racism he experiences through Ash's own white lens. Ash remains white in each iteration while the world becomes more racist around him. Even here, it's Ash's white privilege that allows him to attempt to cross segregation lines, although without any real success. (hide spoiler)] In some ways, Game Changer reminded me of David Levithan’s Every Day, in which the main character wakes up in a different person’s body each day and has to adapt to living as them, whatever their gender, orientation, race, economic status, or body type. In Game Changer, Ash is always Ash, but with the shifts in worlds, he becomes different versions of himself, and must learn to inhabit that self in the world he finds himself in. Game Changer is a quick, intriguing read, and I think the target YA demographic will really find it though-provoking and a great jumping-off point for some intense discussions. Definitely worth checking out. Review copy received in exchange for an honest review. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karen Barber

    Game Changer will, I think, be one of those books that will polarise opinion. I’m grateful to NetGalley for granting me access to it prior to publication, and I think I would recommend it to people, but there are issues that make me wonder if this was quite the right way to get the intended result. Our story focuses on Ash, a fairly typical privileged white American boy. He plays football. He has relatively open relationships with his friends and family, but there’s a sense of things being held b Game Changer will, I think, be one of those books that will polarise opinion. I’m grateful to NetGalley for granting me access to it prior to publication, and I think I would recommend it to people, but there are issues that make me wonder if this was quite the right way to get the intended result. Our story focuses on Ash, a fairly typical privileged white American boy. He plays football. He has relatively open relationships with his friends and family, but there’s a sense of things being held back. This doesn’t cause undue concern, but then Ash is involved in a play that has far-reaching consequences. We journey with Ash as he experiences these strange events. Initially, until we have an explanation for what has happened, I was quite disengaged with this. Ash is not a particularly interesting character and I found his processing of events and the implications for him just a little patronising. He seems to comment lots on everyone around him, but to be quite unaware of his own shortcomings and this annoyed me. Thankfully, quite early on we get some answers that what has happened to Ash is out of the realms of the ordinary. He has shifted reality and each time he does this he is able to change things. Sometimes this works well; sometimes not. Each time it happens, Ash learns something new about himself and the world around him. His only guides through this are twins (who are added to each time he changes things) keen to see if this time round the thing placed at the centre of the universe can make things better. Ultimately, in each reality Ash experiences there are unpleasant things to address: racism, sexism, homophobia. You name the issue, we get it. Ash gets to live in different realities, each experience opening his eyes to the issues faced by many and the ignorance that many of us live in without even realising it. There was a clear sense of him growing as a person, albeit sometimes this feeling seeming forced on him. After a rather slow start, the book became more engaging. I got quite caught up with Ash’s experiences and found the interactions between Ash and the other characters quite interesting. Unfortunately, though there were lessons to be learned - and Ash clearly set out his growing self-awareness in a way that often felt unnecessary - the fact that he ended up in the situation he did suggested that in a world of possibilities we will often settle for what is familiar enough to not be overly threatening. For me, this was not so much a Game Changer as a way of highlighting that change can be necessary and we should look for opportunities to improve things.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bruna Oliveira

    Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Ash - short for Ashley, yes, his family were huge Gone with the wind fans - is a high school student and football player in the school team. After he was hit in the field, he starts to notice his reality is a bit different from what he's used to. Then he realizes he's jumping to different dimensions. First of all, I have to say I really appreciated the author's note in the beginning of the book saying how imp Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review. Ash - short for Ashley, yes, his family were huge Gone with the wind fans - is a high school student and football player in the school team. After he was hit in the field, he starts to notice his reality is a bit different from what he's used to. Then he realizes he's jumping to different dimensions. First of all, I have to say I really appreciated the author's note in the beginning of the book saying how important this book was for him and how he hoped it would help us to get through this moment our world is currently in and I have to say it's the kind of book that can give you at least a little bit of hope. Is it sad and too realistic sometimes? Sure, but it also makes us see the beauty in some things. The books deals with many themes, but mainly racism, privilege, homossexuality, abusive relationships and segregation. The authors works all of these important issues really well and it really made me feel what the characters were feeling. I think the author dealt especially well with the sexual theme, but I'll not get into it, because I consider it a bit spoiler-y. The concept of paralell universes were quite different from other books I've read and it felt really fresh - considering there are so many books with this subject - and the twists were well done. I also liked the author's narrative and it got me hooked really quick. Although It's mainly a drama book, there are some funny dialogues as well. I had some problems with the american football references. I don't really care for it and have no interest in learning more about it, so those moments were a bit boring. The author also used some football metaphors that made me roll my eyes. I also feel like there should be more female characters and the one with more space in the novel, although had a very relevant plot, was not so interesting for me. Overall, it's a very good book that makes us think of several important subjects we should be thinking and discussing. So, if you like sci-fi books with socially relevant themes, you should definitely read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ThatBookGal

    Game Changer pleasantly surprised me! I wasn't sure what to expect as Neal's books tend to be a little hit and miss for me. I really enjoyed Scythe, but Unwind...not so much. Game Changer was compulsively readable, and held my attention from start to finish. It's actually the one book recently where I have wanted to just read, rather than getting distracted by absolutely anything else. Partially, my interest was piqued because I've always had a fascination with the idea of parallel dimensions an Game Changer pleasantly surprised me! I wasn't sure what to expect as Neal's books tend to be a little hit and miss for me. I really enjoyed Scythe, but Unwind...not so much. Game Changer was compulsively readable, and held my attention from start to finish. It's actually the one book recently where I have wanted to just read, rather than getting distracted by absolutely anything else. Partially, my interest was piqued because I've always had a fascination with the idea of parallel dimensions and how interesting it would be to live your life with small tweaks here and there. Game Changer takes that idea and explores it in a really interesting way. I really didn't expect it to turn into a book attempting to address some of the social injustice in society, but I personally thought it was handled very well. Although it only scratches the surface of a lot of the issues, it's always good to see things addressed in YA books, to get young people talking and thinking about it all from an early age. I liked the gentle way the 'science' of what is happening to Ash was addressed. I'm not one for heavily detailed sci-fi, but somewhat contradictive, do like a bit of an explanation of how/what/why. I thought it was handled pretty cleverly in Game Changer, with the Edwards really helping to keep those aspects a bit lighter and injecting a little humour too. Watching Ash's personality evolve as he lived through various experiences was perhaps my favourite part of the book. He starts off almost obnoxious and unlikeable in his indifferent attitude to the world, but we gradually see him develop something of a personality, and awareness that indifference is just as bad as those creating the injustices to begin with. This was a solid 4 star read for me, and I was pretty disappointed when it was over as I was so happy to have found a book that actually made me want to keep reading!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Bookbookowl)

    Thank you to Walker Books for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review! Ash is just an every day guy. Hanging out with his mates, being annoyed by his brother and playing high school football. That is until one tackle seems to shift the world sideways. Suddenly there are subtle, but important, differences that everyone else takes for granted. He’s sure stop signs were always red, so why are they now blue? And why does everyone insist they’ve always been that way? As Thank you to Walker Books for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review! Ash is just an every day guy. Hanging out with his mates, being annoyed by his brother and playing high school football. That is until one tackle seems to shift the world sideways. Suddenly there are subtle, but important, differences that everyone else takes for granted. He’s sure stop signs were always red, so why are they now blue? And why does everyone insist they’ve always been that way? As more football games bring more hard tackles, the world shifts again and again. Sometimes the universe is different, sometimes he is. And often, he’s left more aware of his previous lack of understanding towards certain people or societal flaws. I’m always on the look out for books that are different to anything else I’ve read and Game Changer certainly fit the bill! Part sci-fi, part lesson in humanity, I loved following Ash on his increasingly desperate race to prevent disaster. I especially enjoyed that each shift brought both a downfall and something positive for Ash (and the world in general), showing the reality that the world will never be perfect, we just have to strive to make it as good as we can, with the time we have. I love Neal Shusterman’s writing and although Game Changer is a little different to some of his previous books, he still absolutely nailed the thought provoking style he is known for. A fast paced read with some memorable characters, this is one that should be on everyone’s radar! If you’re worried football isn’t your thing, I can assure you no knowledge of football is required to enjoy this book (I have zero interest in football or sports in general and this did not come across as a ‘football book’).

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