A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Game Changer offers the opportunity to discuss quantum physics, domestic abuse, gender, and issues of identity.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Various members of Ash's family deal drugs out of the back of their store.
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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.
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.
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.