Thunderhead Book Review

Thunderhead Book Cover Thunderhead
Arc of a Scythe
Neal Shursterman
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
Walker Books Ltd
May 3rd 2018 (first published January 9th 2018)
Paperback
515

The dark and thrilling sequel to Scythe, the New York Times sci-fi bestseller. The stakes are high in this chilling sci-fi thriller, in which professional scythes control who dies. Everything else is out of human control, managed by the Thunderhead. It's a perfect system - until it isn't. It's been a year since Rowan went off-grid. Hunted by the Scythedom, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. Citra, meanwhile, is forging her path as Scythe Anastasia, gleaning with compassion. However, conflict within the Scythedom is growing by the day, and when Citra's life is threatened, it becomes clear that there is a truly terrifying plot afoot. The Thunderhead observes everything, and it does not like what it sees. Will it intervene? Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

After finishing Scythe, I knew I could not wait to read Thunderhead. Although I heard things prior to starting that this book was not as good as the first, I begged to differ. I seriously enjoyed Thunderhead!

“That’s exactly what the scythedom is: high school with murder.” 

It continues the gripping aspect that I adore from the previous book. Thunderhead made me shocked so many times. The everchanging politics within the Scythedom and within the Thunderhead itself. Another aspect I loved about Thunderhead is getting to see inside its head. In Scythe, at the beginning of each chapter, there is a page from a different Scythe with their thoughts and feelings. But with Thunderhead, we get to see a glimpse into what it feels. How it sees the world and sees itself. I found it so incredibly intriguing and it made me realize just how an AI could be self-aware. It’s slightly unnerving to think that it is a very possible thing that could happen in our own future.

“Death must exist for life to have meaning.”

Thunderhead continues a year after the events of Scythe. Rowan, now an outcast Scythe with the ring acquired from his ex-mentor, is trying to rid the world of corrupted Scythes. Scythes who bring a bad name to the system they should be loyal to. Citra, who is now a year into her junior year of Scythehood, chooses a different method to her gleaning than what is considered “normal”. Although some people within the Scythedom do not enjoy her methods, she is looked up to by others and might even have to play a bigger role, bigger than she though possible.

Thunderhead also introduces a new character in Greyson, a normal guy who looks to the Thunderhead as a father-figure. Raised by the Thunderhead, Greyson loves talking with it and asking for advice. Until a death threat starts looming over Citra and the Honorable Scythe Marie Curie, he is used as a go-between for very important reasons.

The Thunderhead cannot interfere with the Scythedom. The Scythedom cannot use the Thunderhead like everyone else. But maybe with Greyson, changes could be made?

“Marie,” she said, “it’s finally happened.”
“What has, dear?” 
“I’ve stopped seeing myself as Citra Terranova,” she said. “I’ve finally become Scythe Anastasia.” 

Citra, or Scythe Anatasia, as always, is a fierce and incredibly strong protagonist. I adore her method when it comes to gleaning. It brings a more “real” feeling within the story and I think it allows people to feel more comfortable when they are gleaned by her. People are given a month to clean up any lose-ends within their life before they choose how they want to be gleaned. It’s such a big thing that Citra allows her gleaning victims a choice, when before that was not even a consideration. She changes up the game and I love how people respect her and look up to her. She is super quick with thinking of solutions and making sure that people are safe when it could mean her own life.

“It’s my pleasure to be your displeasure.”

Rowan, however, had me for the entire story. Moreso than Citra I think. The stuff that he has needed to put up with after being unsuccessful with his Scythehood, holy shit. He is constantly struggling with himself and with him seeking out corrupted scythes, Rowan is constantly on the run from the Scythedom. For me the bigger “holy hell I wanted to cry” moment are the moments between Rowan and his former best friend, Tyger. It honestly made my heart shatter. Rowan compared to Scythe is but a shell of his former self. It makes me feel so incredibly sad. I seriously just want to feed the boy chocolate and telling him he’s doing a good job weeding out corruption.

“Please,” he begs, his tears overwhelming his emotional nanites’ attempt to ease his distress. “Please give me a sign. That’s all I ask. Just a sign that you haven’t abandoned me.”

I also really enjoyed the newly introduced character, Greyson. Even though he is doing things that he didn’t think he would ever do, he knows that it’s going to help save lives. But as time goes on, I start feeling so bad for him. Greyson goes from shit to even deeper shit. He gets completely screwed over again and again and how his character develops is incredibly sad but also in a weird way nice. He is given a purpose and despite the odds and all the chances his life could end, he does it without fault. The way in which the books ends too…. Oh, my gentle days. No spoilers but holy hell I am SO excited to see what happens within the next book with him.

Overall, Thunderhead is a fantastic book. Action and death, twists and turns and an ending that leaves you wanting to know WHAT HAPPENS! If you loved Scythe, you will for sure love this book. The pacing is great and the story has enough new information that will keep you engaged. A must read!

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