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Game Changer
Cover of Game Changer
Game Changer
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"A timely, speculative thought experiment in perspective, privilege, and identity." —Kirkus"The conceit behind Shusterman's latest is truly unique. While it exhibits the author's usual...
"A timely, speculative thought experiment in perspective, privilege, and identity." —Kirkus"The conceit behind Shusterman's latest is truly unique. While it exhibits the author's usual...
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  • "A timely, speculative thought experiment in perspective, privilege, and identity." —Kirkus

    "The conceit behind Shusterman's latest is truly unique. While it exhibits the author's usual storytelling aplomb, it also manages to delve into more serious and timely subject matter, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. Despite these heavy topics, the story still moves at a lively pace and, thanks to a zany sci-fi twist, manages to pack in a few laughs as well." —Booklist

    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...

    This high-concept novel from the National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of the Arc of a Scythe series tackles the most urgent themes of our time, making this a must-buy for readers who are starting to ask big questions about their own role in the universe.

About the Author-

  • Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author over thirty books, including Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award; Scythe, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book; Dry, which he co-wrote with his son, Jarrod Shusterman; Unwind, which won more than thirty domestic and international awards; Bruiser, which was on a dozen state lists; The Schwa Was Here, winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. His latest book, Game Changer, debuted as an indie top-five best seller. You can visit him online at www.storyman.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2020
    A timely, speculative thought experiment in perspective, privilege, and identity. Ash Bowman is a White, heterosexual boy who doesn't think too deeply about the plights of others. That is, until a jarring football injury shifts him into a parallel universe. At first, the changes to Ash's world are small: Stop signs are blue, not red, for example. Then, with every tackle, Ash transports himself into a new reality, and the changes become much more pronounced. Characters change gender, social class status, sexuality, or even live in a world where racial segregation still exists. These changes in perspective prompt Ash to cultivate a greater sense of empathy and urgency regarding the suffering of others. But as reality becomes increasingly unstable, he must set the world back to rights. Ash is a clever, sincere narrator, and his journey of self-discovery is well-paced with solid twists at nearly every chapter's end. But the project ultimately attempts to tackle too much, covering abuse, racism, homophobia, misogyny, class privilege, and more; this leads to little time and nuance dedicated to each. Unlike in real life, characters typically possess a single marginalized identity, and the interplay between struggles for progress in different areas is not explored, oversimplifying matters. The joys of queer love are shown, but experiences of being female or Black are largely presented in terms of oppression. Additionally, characters from marginalized populations are generally used for Ash's own character development. A well-intentioned project whose earnest messages of empathy and equality fall short in execution. (Science fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    December 15, 2020
    Grades 9-12 At first, Ash attributes the buzzing in his head to a concussion sustained during a football game. Slowly, he notices more things askew, such as blue stop signs that everyone considers normal. After another rough tackle on the field, Ash discovers that he is hopping from dimension to dimension each time he gets hit. At first, he marvels at how different his life is in these alternate realities. But when he travels to a reality where the civil rights movement never happened, the significance of his power comes into focus. He must learn to harness it to both right wrongs in other worlds and return to his own before he messes things up. The conceit behind Shusterman's latest is truly unique. While it exhibits the author's usual storytelling aplomb, it also manages to delve into more serious and timely subject matter, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. Despite these heavy topics, the story still moves at a lively pace and, thanks to a zany sci-fi twist, manages to pack in a few laughs as well.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: He's won the National Book Award, and he's at home on the New York Times best-seller list. The publisher's robust marketing campaign should catch the attention of any reader not already itching to get their hands on this.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 11, 2021
    A straight, white, cisgender teen is confronted with his own privilege via iterative realities in Printz Honoree Shusterman’s (Scythe) ambitious speculative novel. In the first game of his senior year, defensive tackle Ash Bowman feels a strange sensation while sacking the opposing team’s quarterback. That night, he discovers that stop signs are now blue instead of red, and no one remembers otherwise. The next time it happens, Ash enters a wealthy existence where his family swaps tract housing for a gated community, and a third tackle has him attending an all-white high school in a world where segregation never ended. As each hit spins Ash further from the reality he knows, he finds himself grappling with realities of class, gender, race, and sexuality. Some gratifyingly complex character relationships help balance the action, but centering the privileged protagonist’s limited perspective means that characters with more intersectionally layered identities come off as secondary. Shusterman’s tackling of so many nuanced subjects fails to focus sufficiently on each, resulting in a thought-provoking work that only skims the surface. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)

  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2021

    Gr 8 Up-A hard tackle on the football field normally gives a linebacker a concussion-but every hit Ash Bowman takes throws him into new worlds, called Elsewheres. In the first Elsewhere, the stop signs are blue instead of red. The next hit sends him to an Elsewhere where his father is a professional football player. The next: Segregation is still legal. Ash learns this multidimensional jumping gives him the power to change the world-but only so many times. Once his time runs out, the world will be stuck however he's left it. One might have hoped a novel so firmly grounded in current events would more deftly tackle topics like racism, homophobia, and misogyny-as it is, this novel is a Chosen One white savior narrative. It is only after Ash, who is white and heterosexual, moves through alternate realities to experience firsthand discrimination that he learns these things are bad. Ash is deeply changed by what he learns across worlds, his narrative voice swerving between compelling and mansplaining as he pulls readers along. Shusterman's writing style instantly turns pages but ultimately isn't enough to make up for the problematic foundation the book was built on. "Arc of the Scythe" fans will likely be disappointed in this metaphysical novel, but the sports-meets-speculative aspects will draw in new readers. VERDICT An earnest novel that misses its mark, this is an additional purchase for collections where Shusterman's books already have an audience.-Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., IL

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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