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Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell, #1)
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Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell #1)

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  8,333 ratings  ·  292 reviews
The first of Terry Pratchett's terrific fantasy novels starring Johnny Maxwell.

As the mighty alien fleet from the very latest computer game thunders across the computer screen, Johnny prepares to blow them into the usual million pieces. And they send him a message: We surrender.

They're not supposed to do that! They're supposed to die. And computer jo
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 13th 2010 by Corgi (first published 1992)
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Another great story by Pratchett. He must wake up every morning and think, "What should I make fun of today?" And then he proceeds with mockery while sneaking in valuable social insights. This book is shorter than most of his other books, but it made for great audiobook listening on a four-hour road trip.
Considering the popularity of first person shooters, this book is still very timely. It's Pratchett, it's funny and delivers a message. Kristi is the protype of Hermonie. Enjoyable.

Older Review
A really good what if type of a story, especially if you ever played Space Invaders. There are a couple questions concerning the aliens and the game that Pratchett doesn't answer.
From School Library Journal
Johnny Maxwell, 12, thinks he's a loser. People don't seem to notice him, his parents are threatening to split up, and he's not very good at the shoot-up-the-bad-guys computer games that he and his friends are always playing. But after his hacker buddy, Wobbler, gives him an illegal copy of Only You Can Save Mankind, strange things happen. The captain of the alien fleet that Johnny is supposed to shoot up surrenders to him–unheard of in a computer game–and soon after t
This book was how Terry Pratchett dealt with the first gulf war, I think. I wish I had read it when I was a kid and images of that war were broadcast over my TV screen, interrupting my favorite television shows and occupying the conversation of adults. The main character in the book, Johnny, cared a bit more than I did, but felt basically the same-- these images carried no meaning, as bland and removed from life as an old, out of date video game.
There's one hugely funny bit where Johnny defines
I picked up this book to read something short and light in between another books. Oh, and because it’s Terry Pratchett.

I was surprised by this book. It’s definitely short but not as light as I was expecting. Even the title of the book is not how it seems. You don’t need to save mankind from aliens. You need to save mankind from…well, mankind.
Only You Can Save Mankind is about war and Johnny Maxwell coping with it. It’s about the difference between reality and a dream. Or, to be more precise, it
Allen Holt
A surprising book that left me with a tremendous sense of appreciation for Pratchett's ability to inject seemingly silly or small stories with heart and message. Appropriate reading for teens and adults, like most of Pratchett's work, I'd heartily recommend this quick read to anyone.

The book does an effective job of portraying the early 90s computer gamers. I was especially taken by the nostalgia of it all as I myself was roughly Johnny's age during that first Iraq war and often in front of a co
(Genre:Children's fiction) Low 3 stars. While this is definitely not Pratchett's strongest offering, it did make for an enjoyable read with some astute observations about the human race. Not earth shattering, but it was entertaining and I will probably read the next one in the series.

12 year old Johnny Maxwell is surrounded by conflict. Everyday on the news, they show pictures from the Gulf War(the first one), with bombs dropping on homes and buildings and interviews with top government and mili
Mike (the Paladin)
Okay, I give this book a 3...sort of. I like Sir Terry's writing. He's sharp and can generally make a sharp quip with a dull point. This book isn't quite so good.

Oh, there are some laughs and the plot while not totally new (that the "world inside games is real in it's own way") is a good one. It opens with a cute idea. The young man playing a new computer game is busy fighting his way through the "enemy alien fleet", he's made it to the huge mother-ship...and they surrender. He gets text on his
Who else indeed? And that's really the question, isn't it? The old saw says that one person can make a difference, but no one ever thinks that it's them so no one does anything. And no difference is ever made. That's what the question on the cover of the book points out, if not you, then who else will?

In this case, Johnny is that one person, one out of thousands, but the only one who listens and takes on the responsibility of trying to do something. He has no power in the "real" world; his paren
Wasn't sure if I would enjoy this but I really did.

Kind of dated in a way but I remember those sorts of computer games.

Liked the character of Johnny.

Classic Terry Pratchett humour, lots of funny bits and very cleverly written.

Looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
Nov 28, 2014 Angie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: terry Pratchett fans
Recommended to Angie by: no one
Even though this is a children's book it was still enjoyable to read and this is probably because its still a terry Pratchett novel. The book follows the character Johnny who instead of killing the aliens in his computer game accepts their surrender. He's joined by his friends and gets help in game by sigourney a kick ass girl. Lots of fun Pratchett style follows. This would be perfect for your younger children as well.
Apparently Goodreads didn't save my review... The short version: I love this book. It's a quick read. Give it a try!
Cristina Boncea
Rating-ul ar fi 2.5.

Cartea ar fi în esență legată de Războiul din Golf, despre care eu nu știu nimic. Mai departe, ne spune cum ar trebui să luăm războaiele în serios, căci ele nu sunt doar niște jocuri sau imagini pe ecranul televizorului. Și poate că nu se limitează la războaie...

Mi s-a părut destul de greu de citit, deși a avut umorul specific lui Terry Pratchett. Personajul principal este Johnny Maxwell, un copil de 12 ani care joacă un joc video numit Doar Tu Poți Salva Omenirea. Acolo, per
Paul Wardman
At times a young adult book can fall into the trap of dumbing down the content, adding a love triangle (though that is usually more common in teen books) or talking down to its audience. Luckily the only real difference between an "adult" and "YA" novel is it has chapters and sometimes a younger protagonist.
The basis premis of the book, the aliens you're supposed to fight in a computer game surrender and ask you to save them, is interesting and a good one. The undertones are utterly brilliant.
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Sci-fi drama from Terry Pratchett.

This is not my cup of tea.
Laura Luna
"Sólo tú puedes salvar a la humanidad" es esa novela que recomendaría a los niños y adolescentes que aborrecen la lectura por los libros que les obligan a leer en el colegio. Es una historia adictiva, ligera, llena del humor mordaz característico de Terry que, además, conecta muy bien con la subcultura jugona. Hace reflexionar, además, sobre temas como el sexismo, la marginación social y la autoestima. Me encanta cómo hace que un videojuego rompa la cuarta barrera e invite al héroe a plantearse ...more
I feel like this is one of those books that reads like a YA/MG book, but is actually one which deals with a lot of thought provoking, deeper issues. A bit like the way The Little Prince is a "childrens" book with themes that are more relevant and identifiable as an adult.

Still, I had some trouble with suspension of disbelief because so many things were left unexplained. Maybe in the sequel.

Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 2/5
Peter Petermann
Usually I like Pratchett. And I like the basic idea of the story, I like how it's approaching morality and games. I don't like the way games keep being compared to television, I don't like that dreams part, and I don't like the stereotypes in the characters.
Probably the only Pratchett book that I think I wouldn't have missed anything if I hadn't read it.
Altivo Overo
Oct 30, 2014 Altivo Overo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, but especially gamers
One could wish that a lot of "gamers" would read this and take it to heart. While the story is told in a humorous manner, it nonetheless makes the reader think "what if..." What if the game were real? What if the "aliens" were really people and they really died and stayed dead when you shoot them?

Johnny Maxwell finds himself confronted with this very situation, and has to figure a way out of it. Without any spoilers, and much to his (and Pratchett's) credit, he does in the end. But in order to d
I was bored and I had only one book whit me. So I got this book and I love it. It is a children's book it is still lovely.
Apr 26, 2015 Sheherazahde rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers
A bit dated, but so is anything written nowadays that includes computers.

The issues are not so dated. Johnny's parents are breaking up, there is war going on far away, there is poverty and racism. Johnny just wants to do the right thing in a complicated world.

The major theme of the book is how we treat war like a game when we shouldn't because it involves real people's lives. On the other hand having rules for war keeps us from being the worst that we can be. We are complicated like that. John
Julie Davis
I discovered Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell trilogy way back in 2004 and just reread it. It is Y.A. in the way that Pratchett does so well, truly not condescending but capturing the feelings of that time of life. He does this in the trilogy in a way that seems quite unusual for his books. For one thing because they take place in Great Britain in the real world. More or less.

My original review is below.


The Johnny Maxwell books are not Terry Pratchett's usual Discworld books. They are se
Jemma Patrick
If you were to write a list of unlikely things to hear then that would be close to what I think the inside of Pratchett's head would look like. But this has clearly been written by someone who is too clever for their own good. A boy ends up through nobody's fault as the lynch-pin in the war between human playing computer games and the aliens designed to be the enemy of the video game players and this set against a background of the 'real' human wars that are all over the news. It doesn't take mu ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
D. Prokop
"How do you think like a human? Go into madness first, probably, and then out the other side."

Terry Pratchett died on March 12, 2015, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007. For some ridiculous reason, I had never read any of his books until after his passing. I aim to correct this catastrophic error and foresee myself devouring many more volumes written by this witty, creative, highly entertaining, and prolific author.

My first Pratchett adventure has begun with the inspiring title, “Onl
Arjaye Nitro

To all the players out there, beware. Maybe, one day you are just lazing around the spaceship looking for aliens to target and strike in that computer game of yours then suddenly you are going to be thrust in that same world, where you have to talk and actually fight with them or for them, who knows?! A strange mission you are about to embark because ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND. Johnny Maxwell, in this book, experienced that.

I am not a fan of computer games and all, but i enjoyed
Mark Isaak
I don't often read children's books, but I am enough of a Terry Pratchett fan that I make an exception for him, and I have never been disappointed. In Only You Can Save Mankind, Pratchett makes a computer video game into a real world in order to show his 12-year-old hero, and his readers, some points about dealing with this world, particularly about responsibility. The life lessons are explicit enough that would be hard to miss, yet subtle and natural enough that they don't feel inflicted upon u ...more
Book 2 in this series came up as one of our October reads for the children's book challenge, and I bought the box set, but was then utterly incapable of not starting with book 1 first! I think this is the weakest of the trilogy, as it seems to rely on an element of remembering old computer games from the 80s - Johnny is playing a game similar to Space Invaders when the alien pace ships surrender and beg for his help to escape the line of fire from all the other people playing the game. Not his b ...more
I picked this up because it was a Terry Pratchett I hadn't read, or even really heard of. I only knew Terry Pratchett from Discworld. And, in light of Recent Events, I wanted a new Terry Pratchett read, to make me laugh.
The story of young Johnny Maxwell playing a video game where the aliens got rather more... interactive... than he was expecting, suited nicely. It reminded me of things like E.T., where the driving force is kids being goofy, in the face of possibly aliens and the need to save th
Ian Banks
One of Sir Terry's more modest efforts but still very funny and thoughtful, though sometimes missing the mark: Johnny's speech in his SE class near the end comes off as a little forced and could have benefited from being handled maybe a little less as a set-piece and more like the scene with Bigmac at the accident site. That said, it works as an adventure and has some hilarious bits about growing up and trying to make sense of the world. There are some completely spot-on observations about fitti ...more
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Only You Can Save Mankind 3 10 Aug 23, 2015 08:15PM  
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Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel,
More about Terry Pratchett...

Other Books in the Series

Johnny Maxwell (3 books)
  • Johnny and the Dead (Johnny Maxwell, #2)
  • Johnny and the Bomb (Johnny Maxwell, #3)
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1) Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1) Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1) Night Watch (Discworld, #29; City Watch #6)

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