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Game Changer Hardcover – February 9, 2021
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"A timely, speculative thought experiment in perspective, privilege, and identity." -- Kirkus Reviews
"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
"A straight, white, cisgender teen is confronted with his own privilege via iterative realities in Printz Honoree Shusterman’s (Scythe) ambitious speculative novel." -- Publishers Weekly
"Shusterman has an eye for clever concepts and a masterful control of pace." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"It's a testament to Shusterman's storytelling powers that he is able to develop a cohesive narrative across these multiple shifts, exploring the subtle nuances of how they affect not only Ash but the entire supporting cast." -- Horn Book Magazine
- Publisher : Quill Tree Books (February 9, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0061998672
- ISBN-13 : 978-0061998676
- Reading age : 14 - 17 years
- Grade level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #81,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Neal never made his political views a secret, and that is OK. When done right, Neal can make a great point about our world when it is not in your face and makes you think. A good example of that is the beloved character CyFy and his dads from Unwind. Well done. In contrast, a bad prior example is Captain Jeri from Scythe - where there were many "in your face" explanations about Jeri's choices. Those were unnecessary. However, in Scythe, it was forgivable because Jeri was a good character, and it seems obvious that Neal went back in to add-in in these unnecessary sentences to make a point.
In contrast, Game Changer feels like Neal started not with a story line, but with a liberal checklist, and crafted a makeshift story around it. White privilege, check. Police brutality, yep, check. Throw in every letter of LGBTQ++, the #meToo movement, criminal justice reform, immigration, the evils of capitalism, and I am sure I am forgetting a few checkboxes from the notepad he must have started with.
To rephrase, I do not have a problem with Neal having a political view on these subjects. I agree with some, and disagree with others. And that is OK. But what is not OK, is that I get this from a YA novel, from my favorite author, when all I want to do is escape the every day news where I hear all the things Neal is writing on!!!
I think maybe Neal should take the advice of the lead character of this book. Advice that does not require him to hit his head or to make the "ultimate sacrifice" to get. Go back to your origins. Everlost, Unwind, Dry, Scythe, etc. That was your "perfect" world.
I have read a lot of books by a lot of authors who use their novels as a way to put forth their grievances with the world. To make sure that their political and ideological beliefs are heard. And if it’s done well, it can really add an emotional depth. But this world is a world where Donald Trump is president and Covid runs rampant and my god, I already have to read everyone’s aggressive Twitter takes on the state of the world, I don’t want to also read them in a YA sci-fi wannabe.
I had high hopes for this book and I’m not going to say that it wasn’t interesting, because it was, but it was also so draining. If I want to read your hot take on life, I’ll just look at your Facebook profile.
However, this book didn’t really feel like a Shusterman title. Usually, this author’s novels hold some sort of philosophical meaning that you can ponder on once you’re done— whether that be questions on the value of life, morality, or otherwise. The book didn’t have that. The “message” just felt like something entirely political. I completely agree with his political messages, mins you, but it really feels as though it was shoehorned in just so the author could get his political messages out into the world considering what is going on in present day. Many of Shusterman’s other novels felt timeless and mindful, while this book felt like it would only be interesting to readers in the present day. I also dislike how, at one point, one of the characters erases someone from existing and just treats that like its a totally normal thing.
Despite its minor flaws, though, I think it was a good read. I liked how the character of “Layton” wasn’t just a one-sided evil abuser like most antagonists are. I also really liked the relationship between the protagonist and his brother, it was very well thought out and hearty. One thing that I enjoyed very much was the plot— it was cool, interesting, and pretty solid. The climax of the book had me on the edge of my seat, and it enthralled into the world of the story.
Overall, it was a pretty solid read. Although it was not my favourite book ever, I enjoyed it and the characters will probably be stuck in my head for the next few days. This book was solid, but it has the potential to be extraordinary. Im disappointed that the author didn’t seize the opportunity to make this a timeless classic, but I’m pleased with the final product in general. Though, if you’re really looking for something that will truly blow you away, I recommend “Unwind,” which is another one of Shusterman’s novels.