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.
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…
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.