Game Changer by Neal Schusterman – A Review

Hi! Happy Tuesday. It’s review time!

I usually post reviews ARC reviews on the publication date but it does make a bit more sense to post them before, to give people time to decide whether the book is for them or not, right? From now on I might try to aim to post a week in advance. So, here we are.

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman
  • Publication date: February 9th 2021
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Genre: Sci-fi

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own.

The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes.

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

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After reading and loving Schusterman’s Scythe trilogy, I was very excited to pick up this new release by him. Sci-fi is my jam and alternate realities a buzzword that alone makes me want to read a book, and with the pleasant previous experience with the author – I thought it was a recipe for a success.

I did like the general idea and premise for the book. Although I know nothing about football, nor do I have a clue how the game works, other than people slamming into each other, the sport part of the story didn’t put me off. I understood as much as I needed – Ash, the main character, gets slammed into an alternate reality during a game and things become quite messed up very fast. Sounds good.

The book was a breeze to get through. I liked the writing, the tone and the humour. Ashley was a fine protagonist, someone who’s point of view I enjoyed for most of the book. He wasn’t my favourite – that spot is dedicated to the Edwards, but I didn’t dislike him by any means. So why is the book a 3 star?

Now, I’m going to start by saying I think what Schusterman tried to do was valid and it’s needed in YA, but the way it was done just didn’t bring anything new to the table or have any particular merit in my eyes. The alternate realities bring up discussions about racism, sexism and homophobia, to describe it broadly. Yes, those issues are valid ones to talk about in YA literature and by all means should be discussed more and more, but maybe in a way that sounds less rehearsed and preachy. After all, Ash is a white, straight male in the first reality. His school is diverse racially and so is his friend circle, but he admits on many occasions how ignorant he’s been in the past and how his Black best friend called him out in those times. Ash admits that he has a lot to learn, yet we don’t see him learning much. I think the book misses the point completely and brings up issues and discussions without being willing to delve into all of them with the depth they deserve.

That being said, I didn’t dislike the book. I just think that it could’ve done more and done it better.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read this one yet? Or is it on your radar?

Thank you for reading! Talk to you soon.

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy – A Review

Hi! Happy publication day to Sword in the Stars? I’m not sure how to begin because I can’t think of any reasons to celebrate that. Harsh, I know.

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
  • Publication date: April 7th 2020
  • Publisher: Rock the Boat
  • Genre: Sci-fi

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist… thousands of years in the past.

Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.

It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future…

Thank you to NetGalley for providing and eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but this is the second (and final book) in this series, so if you haven’t read the first – why are you even here?


In Sword in the Stars we’re transported to Medieval Camelot. Ari and the knights, and Merlin, obviously, need to retrieve Arthur’s chalice and bring it back into the future. I love me some heist stories, so I was hopeful. I got got once again.

While I’ve noticed some improvement in the overall story telling from the first book, it wasn’t enough to warrant a higher rating. The action got more structured, sure, but the time travel aspect was too convoluted and didn’t make sense.
Time travel stories are my absolute favourite, so this was a big let down. It’s a really difficult thing to get right – there are certain laws that need to be followed. My biggest issue was a certain character appearing in one timeline 3 times and all 3 of them interacting. Now, since there are different ways of viewing time travel, that could be possible and not destroy the universe, but if you want to do that, you set down your laws. Sword in the Stars had none, it just did what it pleased and when it pleased, and well… it did not please me. But it’s time to move on.

I thought, since we’re in Medieval Camelot, we’d get to see some of it and get a feel for how life was back then. Nope. The world building is minimal, and all we’re really told is how terrible those times were because people didn’t understand sexuality and assumed your gender. I get it, you’re really trying to drive the point across on every page and in every sentence, and identity is SUPER important, but it’s too much. One of the characters even tries to teach those medieval folk about the importance of pronouns etc. All while probably messing up with the future BIG TIME.

Speaking of characters. I honestly liked the story of Nin and how she became the big evil enchantress. Merlin was alright for most of the book, too. Everyone else stayed as much of a caricature of themselves as possible. What bothered me the most was how Kay was addressed. While reminiscing (though very rarely) about him, everyone treated him like a clown (Kay was annoying, awkward, got drunk and did embarrassing things etc. and not in an endearing way) and Kay from the past was a wannabe villain. What was that about? He deserved a better story arc.

I’m going to end this review on two things. Sometimes authors try to convey info by telling the readers, instead of showing, because it’s the only way to do it. The main message of this book (as far as I can tell) was identity. The amount of times we were told about it all really made me think the authors think their readers are idiots. It gets to a point where when a new character is introduced, the dialogue goes something like this:
“Introductions?”
“This is Yazmeen, everyone.”
“Mostly Yaz. She/Her. I’m a good ole lesbian.”
And only a paragraph or two later we find out she’s Ari’s cousin.
People are so much more than that…
And secondly… the slight shade thrown at Merlin the TV show at the end of the book? Excuse me, but… no. Just no.

Rant over. I tried to be eloquent but the dumb comes out when I’m frustrated.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

After my March wrap up this review should come as no surprise. Let’s all learn from this experience, though, and swear not to request sequels to books we haven’t yet read, okay?

Thanks so much for reading. I’ll chat to you very soon!