The Last Football Player

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
276 Pages
Reviewed on 06/01/2023
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Author Biography

John Blossom’s books explore the challenges facing humankind in relation to modern culture as well as the fragility of the planet. He holds a BA in English from Carleton College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Colorado College. John is married with one grown daughter. He presently resides on the Big Island of Hawaii.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Last Football Player is a work of fiction in the science fiction, sports fiction, and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is intended for the young adult reading audience and was penned by author John Blossom. In this inventive and immersive work filled with great sci-fi concepts and plenty of action, we meet our protagonist, Dude McPherson, who was a star athlete until his father’s tech developments threatened to put a stop to the game he loves. As this near-future novel explores the dangers of over-protectiveness and over-reliance on technology, Dude and his friends take to the lab to examine the spirit of football and find a balance between traditional sport and the possibilities of technology that lie ahead.

Author John Blossom puts a new, original spin on sports fiction in this exciting teen adventure novel, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like these concepts before. Whether it’s the sporting side or the science fiction elements that appeal to you in this tale, the merging of the two brings an accomplished sense of balance to the storyline, and it’s interesting to see traditional and modern issues clash, both on the field and in the laboratory. Dude is a suitable hero for the piece as a star player, but he’s not alone, and I was impressed with the diverse range of other characters who take part in the action and the time and care that the author takes to ensure they are fully developed as real people you can root for. Overall, I’d definitely recommend The Last Football Player to fans of engaging sports fiction with clever concepts and great character development.

Pikasho Deka

The Last Football Player is a young adult sports drama story by John Blossom. After suffering an injury during a football game, Dude, an eighth-grade wide receiver for Honeycrisp School's football team, sees his dream of playing high school football shattered by his father, who uses his influence to ban the game. Forced to spend his time at the school's Tech Lab, Dude meets Tomly Newton, the center's student proctor, who introduces him to the advanced AI Master and the latest technological tools of the lab. Feeling inspired, Dude and his teenage friends work toward creating a football team of robots, only for the project to be taken over by his father and Circle Corporation. With a championship against their biggest rivals, Dude must now put everything on the line for what might be his last football game ever.

The Last Football Player is a must-read for young adult sports fans and sci-fi lovers. At its core, John Blossom's absorbing sports drama is a coming-of-age story flavored with sci-fi elements. With the recent advancements in AI technology in the real world, the sci-fi elements of the story feel within reach. Add Blossom's realistic integration of futuristic tech into the plot, and you find yourself thoroughly invested in the story's stakes. The expository scenes are organically embedded into the narrative. Each character has distinct strengths and personalities that create compelling interactions and scenes. I especially enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie between Dude, Tomly, Adam, Master, and Allison. Recommended!

Asher Syed

The Last Football Player by John Blossom revolves around teenage protagonist Dude McPherson, who becomes embroiled in conflict with his father, Dudley Sr., regarding the relevance and safety of football played by human athletes at his high school. Following an injury sustained in a championship game, Dudley Sr. spearheads a campaign to ban contact sports at Dude's school, proposing virtual alternatives to prioritize safety. In response, Dude passionately advocates for the unique experiences and skills that real football offers, while his father succeeds in making the ban on football universal. Dude and his friend work together on a compromise, a different kind of team for a new age, and are making slow but steady strides until the hands of corporate greed infiltrate their honest enterprise, and they are rocked when a deception in the heart of their real-life world complicates matters.

I live in a country where football is the same sport that my American friends and family call soccer. In recent years, with the novelty of NFL week and non-soccer football played annually at Wembley in London, it appears that the sport has started making waves on this side of the Atlantic as well. This, and the lightning speed with which we are witnessing advancements in artificial intelligence [AI] in terrifyingly real-time, drew me to The Last Football Player by John Blossom. From a literary standpoint, Blossom has the writing chops of a seasoned author. Dude is a protagonist with an authentic air in a near future where authenticity is endangered. He lives and breathes in a contemporary high school with the perfect jock-to-nerd ratio to make him relatable to a wide range of younger readers. Opinions about AI are all over the place, but I think most people will agree that the hallowed ground of sports arenas, regardless of caliber and size, are not to be tampered with. That said, given the premise of football being banned, Dude's journey and creativity are enjoyable to follow, and I don't doubt for a moment that others will agree.

Natalie Soine

The Last Football Player by John Blossom is set in Silicon Valley. Dudley McPherson Sr’s son “Dude” loves football, but Dudley is an experienced player and aware of the health dangers and injuries associated with the game. Dude plays for the Honeycrisp team, their biggest rival being the Zinkerberg team. Dude is severely injured during their football match, and Dudley convinces the Honeycrisp Parent Action Committee on Rethinking Sports to ban all contact sports. Dude becomes ostracized by his friends and decides his only option is to make the game safe. Tomly Newton, the Center’s student proctor, introduces Duke to the Honeycrisp School Tech Lab, where students can play with uninhibited creativity and innovation, and learn about data analysis and AI influence. Perhaps working in the lab will solve Duke’s challenges and allow him to get back on the field?

Author John Blossom has created a wonderful futuristic story suitable for all young adults. The Last Football Player highlights the challenges of football and similar contact sports. The story also teaches that other options are available to children who are prevented from doing what they love most if they are just introduced to alternatives. I enjoyed the unusual sci-fi characters, events, and locations – John Blossom certainly has a creative imagination. Children are living in the age of technology, which impacts their daily lives. There are some important lessons for parents, children, and teachers when it comes to modern schooling and education. The story is easy to read and follow, which makes for a comfortable reading experience.

Jamie Michele

In John Blossom's The Last Football Player, Dude defends real football against his dad's campaign to ban contact sports. Teaming up with his friend Tomly, they create a bot football team called Sixes to preserve the sport's essence. Despite facing challenges, suspicions about data leaks, and corporate interests, they remain focused on their goal and gain popularity. Veri-News reporters verify their football demonstration videos, and Dude confronts Adam about his dad's involvement with Circle. They incorporate art into the Football Sixes but discover Circle's profit motives. Dude embraces bot football while keeping the spirit of the sport alive. Coach Miller joins the team, and they practice and analyze the bots' behavior. They prepare for a big game against Zinkerberg, but a betrayal could just do them all in.

The Last Football Player by John Blossom is a young adult science fiction novel that is eerily well-timed in the age of artificial intelligence, and goes even further to explore the conflict between tradition and mechanized sports. What would happen if artificial intelligence was the new normal for America's favorite pastime? Through well-crafted characters and a thought-provoking plot, the author raises important questions about the impact of technology on cherished traditions. You know what else it does? It entertains. Blossom's book is a really fun read that engages not only sports enthusiasts and those interested in the evolving dynamics between tradition and innovation, but my teen daughter also thought it was “pretty cool.” And frankly, her approval is really hard to get! Very highly recommended.