Bookish Things · Reviews

ARC Review: Game Changer – Neal Shusterman


An explosive new novel by the author of the National Book Award-winning Challenger Deep and the New York Times bestselling Arc of a Scythe series, about the limited ways we see our world—and how a jolt out of the ordinary can upend the universe.

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 falling into universes that are almost-but-not-really his own, each one stranger than the last.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…


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.

15 thoughts on “ARC Review: Game Changer – Neal Shusterman

  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed this book! I’ve been wondering whether I should read it or not myself, so it’s good to see a review that presents a different perspective of the story than what I’ve seen so far. Great review, I’ll definitely be reading this one when it’s out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this! It doesn’t particularly sound like my type of story, but since Neal Shusterman wrote it and I’ve loved every single one of his books that I’ve read so far, I guess I’ll be giving it a try anyway 😁 And I’m not gonna lie – your review has made me pretty hopeful 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Scythe is probably also my favorite book of Neal Shusterman’s (I mean, it has the Thunderhead 😍), but I did also like Challenger Deep, a contemporary he co-wrote with his son. So I’m hoping he’ll do the genre justice in this one, too! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll be interested to see what you think of it! When I first read Challenger Deep, I thought it didn’t really live up to his other books, but then I found myself continuing to think about the story long after I’d finished it – so it does definitely stick with you!
        And I totally agree on Thunderhead 😁 Or maybe I love Scythe just as much… Let’s just say I adore the entire trilogy 😂

        Liked by 1 person

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