Game Changer by Tim Bowler

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Game Changer by Tim Bowler

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fabulous thriller taking place over a very short time frame so very intense. The central character is a boy with agoraphobia, who is extremely relatable. Loved this high tension story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: March 2015
Publisher: OUP Oxford
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0192794159

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Mikey is afraid of open spaces. He would much rather hide in his room - in his wardrobe, actually - than face the world outside. But his family, in particular his sister Meggie, are very supportive. And with Meggie's help, Mikey is gradually beginning to face that world outside. But then something goes horribly, horribly wrong. Mikey sees something he shouldn't have seen. And the gang knows what he saw. The gang knows where he lives. And the gang wants to talk to him...

... but what did Mikey see? Why can't he tell anyone about it, even Meggie? And how can he get himself out of this terrible, frightening hole?

Game Changer is intense and exciting. It's a short book, coming in at under two hundred pages, so it's a whirlwind of a read. I couldn't put it down and raced through it one sitting. We understand straightaway that Mikey's anxiety is always at a high level but what he's experiencing now is extreme, even for him. We can see how worried and afraid he is and we can see how concerned his family is, especially his sister Meggie. The special, close relationship between Mikey and Meggie is at the heart of this story and we can also see how excruciating it is for both of them as Mikey's terrible secret intrudes into their lives.

Mikey has a touch of the unreliable narrator about him. He's agoraphobic, which is crippling enough. But he's so conscious of his phobia and so guilty about the problems it causes, that he's also paranoid. He sees condemnation and mockery all the time, even when it isn't there. Without giving any spoilers, by the end of the story Mikey discovers there's a lot more goodwill towards him than he had ever imagined. I loved the way Bowler handled this - it can't be easy to get something so subtle into such an intense story but it's been done with care and leaves not only Mikey but the reader too with the valuable positive message that while the baddies do exist, the goodies outnumber them and are always there, just waiting to be noticed.

It's no secret that we are big fans of Tim Bowler here at Bookbag. He never lets us down and he certainly hasn't here, with Game Changer. It's fast-paced, intense, and claustrophobic at times. It gives insight into the life of someone who struggles with mental health and has positive messages about families, friendships and love. And, like all Bowler's stories, it pulls you in from the very first page and doesn't let you go until long after you've finished reading.

If you enjoyed the intensity of Game Changer, you should read Bowler's Blade series. You might also enjoy Teacher's Dead by Benjamin Zephaniah, about teen knife crime.

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Buy Game Changer by Tim Bowler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Game Changer by Tim Bowler at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Game Changer by Tim Bowler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Game Changer by Tim Bowler at


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