Game Changer

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Game Changer Book Poster Image
Football player hits alternate dimension in exciting sci-fi.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Game Changer offers the opportunity to discuss quantum physics, domestic abuse, gender, and issues of identity.

Positive Messages

People are capable of changing for the better. Family members need to communicate clearly with each other. Friendships can endure even across dimensions. People should be able to express their love for their partners.

Positive Role Models

Ash Bowman is a popular high school football player who benefits from White privilege. Some of his friends are people or color, but it isn't until he's bumped into the past that he sees how race has affected his life. He has the sensitivity to recalibrate his perspective when he enters a universe where segregation is still commonplace.


A few violent scenes, most not bloody. A football player pushes his girlfriend around. A character is beaten with a baseball bat. Ash fights with some drug dealers.


It is clear from dialogue that the high school characters have active lovelives, but few acts of physical intimacy are described in any detail. Ash passionately kisses his boyfriend and causes a public scene. 


Swearing is fairly frequent -- "hell," "damn," "a--hole," "s--t" up to a dozen times each -- with one or two "f--k" or its variants.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Various members of Ash's family deal drugs out of the back of their store.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Neal Shusterman's Game Changer chronicles a high school football player's quest to find his way home after he is concussed into another reality. The novel raises questions about gender, race, and identity. Characters talk about their lovelives, but there are no graphic descriptions of sex. There are violent scenes -- a boy assaults his girlfriend, Ash's friend is beaten with a bat, Ash fights some criminals. Ash's family deals drugs in more than one reality.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThankfulmom February 26, 2021

More mature Neal Shusterman book

Game Changer is a sci-fi story about a character getting knocked into alternate dimensions. Even a slight change in time or choice alters the universe and in t... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

As GAME CHANGER begins, high school football player Ash Bowman takes a hard hit to the head and wakes up in an alternate universe, one where the stop signs are blue and Ash's family is wealthy. Unsure what's happening to him, Ash looks for clues from a set of mysterious, identical skateboarders. They tell him that the universe literally revolves around him, and that if he wants to get back to his normal life, he needs to make corrections. As he moves through universes, Ash sees how the actions he takes have consequences. Can he follow-through without destroying reality itself?

Is it any good?

Finding a fresh twist on parallel universes is difficult, but this thoughtful, suspenseful tale brings heart and originality to the endeavor. In Game Changer, Ash Bowman is a likable main character -- sensitive, driven, intelligent -- and he is surrounded by a diverse cast of supporting characters. It's fun to see author Neal Shusterman put Ashby through a series of mind-bending changes that question the nature of reality. There are no easy answers for why the world works as it does. Readers who want a challenging science fiction tale with philosophical underpinnings will be surprised and excited by Game Changer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Game Changer addresses the possibility of alternate dimensions. What kinds of changes would you make to your life if you could change overnight?

  • Why is it difficult for some teens to come out to their friends and families?

  • Do women and men view the world differently? What assumptions are made about people of color?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate