What would you do if you were forced out from the place you thought safest into the places you fear the most?
The title of Tim Bowler’s latest YA novel, Game Changer, suggests his protagonist, 15 year-old Mikey Molyneux, is playing games, but in no way is his desperate situation a game. Not only is Mikey terrified of open spaces, the home he thought himself safe in is being invaded, by phone calls, by threats of harm, by the prospect of more visits to the shrink he’s lost faith in.
We’re introduced to Mikey, found hiding in his wardrobe with a copy of Moby Dick, days in from witnessing an undisclosed ‘event’ while out with his younger sister, Meggie. It’s Meggie who coaxes him out of the wardrobe and into school but although Mikey’s anxiety is nothing new, Meggie’s instinctively aware that there’s more to Mikey’s fear than normal.
Sometimes uncomfortably close, the sibling bond between Mikey and Meggie is the beacon of hope, not only for Mikey’s potential recovery, but also for his physical safety from those who are threatening him.
Tim Bowler, as he comes across in his video blogs, is very engaging and his writing style makes the most of the unusual characters. He weaves humour with Mikey’s agoraphobia and then deftly combines them both with a thriller of a plot.
Game Changer may be a short read but it leaves you as breathless as Mikey, blazer pulled over his head, as he fights his way across the expanse of playground just to get to class.