By Author / Illustrator
Representation & Inclusion
Walker Books Ltd
Paperback / softback
An ambitious and magnetic novel from the New York Times bestselling Neal Shusterman, about a teenage American football player forced into a series of parallel lives.
As a star player on his high school American football team, Ash is used to taking some hard hits. But that one run in his last game must have knocked him a little loose, because suddenly his life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.
As Ash bounces into worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own, he starts to question everything, including his own perceptions and place in his own reality. But can he even work out how to get back there?
Ash Bowman is one of the stars of his American football team. An all-round decent guy with a tight group of friends and a good head on his shoulders. But his neatly ordered and unremarkable world is jolted when he takes a heavy tackle in a game and finds himself in another dimension, a slightly altered version of his own world.
Disorientated, Ash manages to establish himself in this familiar but different world and realises how decisions and injustices can reverberate through time. He soon meets the Edwards - one inter-dimensional character with multiple personalities who provide Ash with a link between worlds and a possible escape back to his own. But can Ash do the right thing and tackle privilege, injustice and temptation?
Setting out its agenda in the first chapter, this book feels like a bit of a slow starter. An introduction to the characters lets the reader see their subtle and sometimes not so subtle deficiencies and prejudices. But the book soon gathers pace and interest as a myriad of time-slip scenarios are played out.
Ash is a strong and self-aware narrator and as the book gathers pace you become more engaged in its resolution. Game Changer lacks the power and shock value of some of Shusterman's other books, particularly the Scythe series, but it's still very readable and makes some strong points about gender, identity and race.
400 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+