Parents' Guide to

Only You Can Save Mankind

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Aliens in Johnny's video game don't want to fight.

Only You Can Save Mankind Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 1 parent review

age 8+

Even more relevent that when is was written.

Johnny is the kid no one notices, his parents are breaking up and there’s nothing on TV but news of a distant war in some place called Iraq, oh, and the space aliens in his computer game have just started talking to him. Apparently they are tired of being shot at and want Johnny to save them. Frequently hilarious, and when has Pratchett been otherwise, and often thought provoking, it's probably going to convince kids about the desensitizing effects of video games much more effectively than there parents ever could, and may even, heaven forbid, encourage them to think.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

While this book quite a bit simpler, preachier, and less clever than his other work for children, the plot is incredibly gripping. It raises so many fascinating questions and issues that it is definitely worth reading, especially for literature circles and discussion groups. Johnny and his friends, Wobbler the hacker and Bigmac, who leads a very different life at home than at school, are compelling, if not very fleshed-out, characters. And Pratchett's trademark humor is here, even if it is a bit muffled.

In addition to the major themes, Pratchett touches on a number of serious side topics, such as inner city violence and divorce, but then seems to drop them again. Perhaps they will be important to other entries in this series, but here they seem a bit gratuitous and out of place, as if the author wasn't quite sure where he wanted to go. But none of this quibbling will stop kids from enjoying the story, and the odd plot flaws may even be grist for more group discussions.

Book Details

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.

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