Book Review · Books

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman [BOOK REVIEW]


After reading all the books in the Arc of a Scythe series and loving them all, I couldn’t say no to a new Neal Shusterman book. After all, his writing is magnificent. I am so thankful to Hanna from SparkPoint Studio, for providing me with an e-arc Netgalley copy of Game Changer.

Read my reviews of the Arc of a Scythe series:
1. Scythe
2. Thunderhead
3. The Toll


Ash is a football player. And by football player, I mean hand-egg player. He plays rugby. You get my point. Anytime he takes a hit on the field, his life changes. He moves into another dimension, or an alternative reality, where things are slightly different from his previous reality.

At first, his changes are small and insignificant. However, they quickly turn into universes where society is stuck in the past and he finds himself looking at life with an entirely different perception.

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

My Thoughts:

The reason I loved all the Arc of a Scythe books were mainly because of Neal Shusterman’s writing, ability for storytelling and incredible world-building. The writing in Game Changer was great, and the idea about the alternative universes was phenomenal! I was hooked, and it was quite easy to get into. I read it very quickly and enjoyed reading it overall. However, the world building and the entire plot somewhat lacked purpose. This was the main thing I struggled with through the entire book.

Neal Shusterman takes on many important topics, and through Ash, he covers these as he moves into each alternate universe. He faces a world where segregation is normal. A world where his sexual orientation changes, and even a world where he wakes up one day as a woman. Alongside these changes, there are other changes as well, like drug dealing, trying to help a person that might be in an abusive relationship, even eliminating people along the way with no consequences.

All of these topics are extremely important, and each of these need to be talked about.

There need to be books that cover these issues, and I am glad this book exists because of that reason. Because at least people, especially young readers, will be aware of these issues if they pick up this book. However, I think that because of the way this book was set up, and how quickly Ash moves from one universe to another, the issues don’t really get resolved. Even by the end, where he ends up being the hero, he hasn’t really fixed anything, or raised any awareness. It ends up with the “Meh, it could’ve been much worse (because I’ve been in the alternate universes, and trust me, I know)”. And this didn’t sit well with me at all.

I rooted for him to make a change for everyone that is impacted. Not just for himself, and when it affected him. I wanted him to fight for his best friend, when Leo got separated from him in the universe where segregation was legal. And I wanted him to keep fighting, but he didn’t really even try. And no, organising a high-school dance party that includes black people is not considered helping when one of your friends is in prison for no apparent reason. I just expected more from Ash…

However, considering how complicated of a character Ash is, and how much he seems to be unaware and uninterested in general issues, unless it directly affects him, it made me think that perhaps, this was Neal’s point all along? Create a character like him to provoke a discussion, provoke a reaction, and show us that we need to play our part in society as well if we want true changes. I want to think that this is the case, and for that, I would still recommend it to young readers.

Game Changer is nothing like the Arc of a Scythe series.

But it will make you think about important topics such as racism and sexuality. Even though I wasn’t quite satisfied with Game Changer, I still think it’s a very important read. Especially for the current and future generations. And I hope that some day, this book will age in a way where the issues that are covered will be redundant.

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Book Review · Books

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe #2) [BOOK REVIEW]

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I thought Scythe will be my favorite book of the year, but then I read Thunderhead. It is a shame that I won’t be able to read The Toll this year – but I am honestly so honored to have a chance to read this series in my lifetime. Neal, please let me kiss your immortality ring!

Thunderhead is a continuation of The Arc of Scythe series, where we follow two characters, Citra and Rowan, in their journey to become apprentices of Scythe Faraday. With many twists and turns, which I don’t want to spoil for you all, Thunderhead begins exactly where Scythe finished. And it only gets better from here!

While in Scythe, the main focus of the book was the introduction to the world of Scythes, their beliefs, their challenges, their destiny, in Thunderhead, we get to know the Thunderhead better. The mind behind all the success of humankind, the brains behind how we managed to beat immortality. The Thunderhead sees everything and it can control everything – except the Schythedom. 

“The end doesn’t always justify the means, dear.” she said. “But sometimes it does. Wisdom is knowing the difference.”

This book was so powerful in so many ways. The bravery of Scythe Citra, now known as Scythe Anastasia. The determination of Rowan. Thunderhead and the power and wisdom it holds, but is unable to share it. The sacrifice of Scythe Curie. The friendship that slowly turns to love and trust between Citra and Rowan and their fights to bring fairness and justice, both of them fighting for the same goal, but in their own different ways. 

Thunderhead was everything I was hoping it to be and more. It was all I ever wanted from it. The writing, the mini entries of thoughts from the Thunderhead or the diary excerpts that keep you engages chapter after chapter are such a refreshing way to read a book.

I think this series will end up being my favorite one of all time, and I cannot wait to get to The Toll and get the ending I am hoping I will get. Thunderhead finishes with an enormous cliff-hanger, that makes you beg for the next book. 

I recommend this book so, so much and in real life I cannot stop talking about it. Please pick up a copy and give it a try. If you don’t instantly fall in love with it, you can glean me.

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Book Review · Books

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe #1) [BOOK REVIEW]

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman is my favourite read for 2019 so far! I had this book on my TBR shelf since last Christmas, I don’t even know why I waited so long to read it!

“2042 is the year we conquered death, and also the year we stopped counting. Sure, we still numbered years for a few more decades, but at the moment of immortality, passing time ceased to matter.”

In a perfect world, where immortality exists, the only way to die is to be gleaned by a scythe. Citra and Rowan are both living different normal lives, when they both have separate encounters with Scythe Faraday that will change their lives. They are both chosen to be his apprentice, a role neither of them wants to have.

“Every child is told from the day he or she is old enough to understand that the scythes provide a crucial service for society. Ours is the closest thing to a sacred mission the modern world knows.”

They have no choice, but to learn the art of gleaning – a word that has replaced killing many centuries ago, as it sounds better. Citra and Rowan are on their way to find out about the world of scythes, and what it takes to be one, and take on the terrifying responsibility of choosing their victims.

In a  perfect world though, corruption still exists, and Citra and Rowan will have to join forces to defeat it. But one day, they are told that one of them has to kill the other…

Neal Shusterman is a maestro with his words and world building. He managed to create this dystopian world where good and evil exist, where we have beaten immortality and a big machine called the Thunderhead controls everything – apart from death. Because death is an act that must be performed by another human.

Every scythe must reach of quota of number of people to glean, and within that number there must be diversity and percentages met (a few fisherman, one Latino woman, one child, etc.) Each scythe has all the weapons available and all means in order to perform the gleaning, and it is up to them to choose the ways to do it. Some scythes are compassionate, and some scythes are brutal. And every day, all the scythes have to write an entry in their diary of their day, and this information is available to the public. And through Scythe Faraday, Scythe Curie and Scythe Goddard, we learn different personalities and see this responsibility, this gift (or is it a curse) from different points of view.

“Was there ever a time when people weren’t plagued with boredom? A time when motivation wasn’t so hard to come by?”

It is a great responsibility, deciding who lives and who dies, and performing the gleaning itself. That is why not everyone becomes a scythe. Not everyone can handle this responsibility.

I loved how through Citra and Rowan we learn a lot about the Scythe world, but also learn a lot about compassion and caring, about love and respect. And even though Citra and Rowan have different qualities, we can see them connect over at least one – compassion!

With an incredible plot, incredible world-building and unexpected plot twists – this is a book that has left me speechless many times. I don’t often highlight pages and quotes in books, but I did here. It left me wanting for more, and I couldn’t put it down until very late in the night. I was so engrossed by the whole Scythedom world, that I cannot wait to read the next one!

If you love Young-Adult Series, dystopian worlds, many amazing characters, love stories, quotes to remember for life and a little bit of spookiness – this is the book for you. This is what you have been waiting for all along. Go and grab it!

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