Game changer / Neal Shusterman.
- ISBN: 9780061998676
- ISBN: 0061998672
- Physical Description: 387 pages ; 22 cm
- Publisher: New York, NY : Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 
- Copyright: ©2021
After an especially rough tackle on the football field, Ash thinks he might be suffering some permanent damage, because suddenly stop signs are blue and always have been. After the second universe-altering hit, he drives a Beemer instead of a Dodge, and a pair of interdimensional twins promises him answers. The more universes he visits, the more Ash has to face perspectives he never thought to consider before, and the closer the universe gets to complete annihilation. There must be a way to fix everything, but can he really trust the only people who seem to understand what's going on?
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From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
At first, Ash attributes the buzzing in his head to a concussion sustained during a football game. Slowly, he notices more things askew, such as blue stop signs that everyone considers normal. After another rough tackle on the field, Ash discovers that he is hopping from dimension to dimension each time he gets hit. At first, he marvels at how different his life is in these alternate realities. But when he travels to a reality where the civil rights movement never happened, the significance of his power comes into focus. He must learn to harness it to both right wrongs in other worlds and return to his own before he messes things up. The conceit behind Shusterman's latest is truly unique. While it exhibits the author's usual storytelling aplomb, it also manages to delve into more serious and timely subject matter, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. Despite these heavy topics, the story still moves at a lively pace and, thanks to a zany sci-fi twist, manages to pack in a few laughs as well.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: He's won the National Book Award, and he's at home on the New York Times best-seller list. The publisher's robust marketing campaign should catch the attention of any reader not already itching to get their hands on this.
School Library Journal Review
School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up--A hard tackle on the football field normally gives a linebacker a concussion--but every hit Ash Bowman takes throws him into new worlds, called Elsewheres. In the first Elsewhere, the stop signs are blue instead of red. The next hit sends him to an Elsewhere where his father is a professional football player. The next: Segregation is still legal. Ash learns this multidimensional jumping gives him the power to change the world--but only so many times. Once his time runs out, the world will be stuck however he's left it. One might have hoped a novel so firmly grounded in current events would more deftly tackle topics like racism, homophobia, and misogyny--as it is, this novel is a Chosen One white savior narrative. It is only after Ash, who is white and heterosexual, moves through alternate realities to experience firsthand discrimination that he learns these things are bad. Ash is deeply changed by what he learns across worlds, his narrative voice swerving between compelling and mansplaining as he pulls readers along. Shusterman's writing style instantly turns pages but ultimately isn't enough to make up for the problematic foundation the book was built on. "Arc of the Scythe" fans will likely be disappointed in this metaphysical novel, but the sports-meets-speculative aspects will draw in new readers. VERDICT An earnest novel that misses its mark, this is an additional purchase for collections where Shusterman's books already have an audience.--Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., IL
Publishers Weekly Review
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A straight, white, cisgender teen is confronted with his own privilege via iterative realities in Printz Honoree Shusterman's (Scythe) ambitious speculative novel. In the first game of his senior year, defensive tackle Ash Bowman feels a strange sensation while sacking the opposing team's quarterback. That night, he discovers that stop signs are now blue instead of red, and no one remembers otherwise. The next time it happens, Ash enters a wealthy existence where his family swaps tract housing for a gated community, and a third tackle has him attending an all-white high school in a world where segregation never ended. As each hit spins Ash further from the reality he knows, he finds himself grappling with realities of class, gender, race, and sexuality. Some gratifyingly complex character relationships help balance the action, but centering the privileged protagonist's limited perspective means that characters with more intersectionally layered identities come off as secondary. Shusterman's tackling of so many nuanced subjects fails to focus sufficiently on each, resulting in a thought-provoking work that only skims the surface. Ages 14--up. (Feb.)■