Reader Reviewed Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save Mankind

Written by Terry Pratchett
Illustrated by Mark Beech
Part of the Johnny Maxwell Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

This is an absolutely cracking whiz-bang of a story. Set in an unreality, that is actually scarily real, it plays with your mind and really, really makes you think! Johnny Maxwell loves video games, while shooting invading spaceships, he finds himself contacted by an alien race, suddenly the game is real, can Johnny save the day? This is as valid today, as when it was first written in the early 1990’s, though Terry Pratchett made some updates, along with an authors note in 2013. He explains that Only You Can Save Mankind was written during the first Gulf War when TV computer games about war were in their infancy, the news was showing constant, sometimes even live updates about the war, and so the lines between pretend and real were become very blurred indeed. Terry Pratchett excels in setting questions about mankind for you to ponder without you realising it, all the while enjoying a wild fantastical ride. No one else quite has his magical touch, his books are so witty, thoughtful and wise. Only You Can Save Mankind is the first in a quite spectacular trilogy and another must read from the the truly wonderful Terry Pratchett. ~ Liz Robinson

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Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Emily Golding, age 10 ½ - 'If you don't know who Terry Pratchett is, here's a brief summary of how EPIC he is: he if fabulous, funny and totally WICKED!!! Seriously, you're missing out on a whole lot of funniness!'
  • Ethan Watkin, age 10 - 'I loved Only You Can Save Mankind as it mixes my favourite things, books and video games.This a great comedy action book and my favourite character was Big Mac who is funny. Great book. Loved it!'
  • Issie Ford, age 10 - 'It’s an exciting book, chock to the brim full of characters who can literally pop out of nowhere.'
  • Toby Little, age 10 - 'Since the book was first published, video games have become a lot more realistic, but it would still be cool if you could just jump into one.'
  • Charlotte Dunn, age 10 - 'A thoughtful, yet funny story which reflects upon modern life for children.'
  • Oliver Lonsdale, age 10 - 'A great book for computer game lovers.'
  • Toby Nicholson, age 9 - 'I liked that this book started as a computer game in normal life but then it turned into a real-life adventure.  It was a real page turner and I would definitely recommend it.'
  • Jessica Holmes, age 11 - 'Only You Can Save Mankind is a very good book. Johnny Maxwell lives an unusual life helping aliens, but with help from old and new friends, they manage it.'
  • Seren Daly, age 11 - 'This book is exciting and adventurous.'
  • Rob Anderson, age 8 - 'A very weird, but funny book.'
  • Ethan, age 7 - 'This book is really funny, with lots of jokes, and lots of funny spellings (Mummy says this is typically Pratchett!), it's really exciting and you can't wait to find out what happens next.'
  • James, age 11 - 'I think that Terry Pratchett is a good, reliable author as he can mix scary into funny while also including good morals for young children.'
  • Oscar Smith - 'Only You Can Save Mankind is a hilarious and gripping novel by well-known author Terry Pratchett...Guaranteed cries of laughter and joy ensue in this must have essential for bookshelves.'
  • Libby Bridgeman, age 10 - 'This is a good book for kids who like computer games.'

Win books 1 & 2 in the Rory Branagan (Detective) Series!

To mark the publication of the second book in the Rory Branagan (Detective) series, we are giving away books 1 & 2 to to THREE lucky winners!

To have a chance of winning one of these great prizes, click the button below. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. Draw closes on 9 July 2018. The winners will be notified by 16 July 2018.

Good luck!

Enter prize draw Draw closes: 09/07/2018


Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

Johnny Maxwell is just an ordinary boy - not smart, popular or rich. But he does love video games. And as his parents argue themselves out of a marriage, Johnny plays at becoming humanity's' last hope, shooting invading aliens out of a pixelated sky. Then comes a message from the last remaining alien spaceship: We Wish to Talk. And suddenly Johnny is thrust into the very real world of the video game, and comes face to face with an alien race that needs his help. Only Johnny can save them. And this isn't a game any more . . . The first book in the Johnny Maxwell trilogy.


An impressively original book with its thrills and spills, its inventiveness, its wit and continuous readability Daily Telegraph

A wonderful new Pratchett-style fantasy: funny and thrilling enough for anyone who can read fluently Daily Mail

Funny and exciting Spectator

Terry Pratchett's funny, fast-moving story makes provocative reading for all computer game players . . . Makes a serious point out of a ridiculously comic example Children's Books of the Year

Everyone should read Terry Pratchett. Maybe it should be part of the National Curriculum? Families

About the Author

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett (1948 - 2015) was born in 1948 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. He had his first story published when he was just thirteen, and after leaving school at seventeen to become a journalist he continued writing, publishing his first novel, The Carpet People, in 1971 and going on to produce the phenomenally successful Discworld and his trilogy for young readers, The Bromeliad. His first Discworld novel for children, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents was awarded the 2001 Carnegie Medal.

Terry Pratchett as well as numerous other books, winning many awards and becoming the UK’s bestselling author. He was appointed OBE in 1998.

He died in March 2015 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. You can find out more about his life and work at

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Book Info


240 pages


Terry Pratchett
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Corgi Childrens an imprint of Random House Children's Publishers UK

Publication date

22nd February 2018




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