Review: Thunderhead (ARC of the Scythe Trilogy book #2) ~ Neal Shusterman
504 pages ~ Genre: YA, Dystopian
2018 ~ Simon and Schuster
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has done off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes – not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk her now – “Scythe Lucifer” – A vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames. Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone- or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead- the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?
Absolutely Brilliant! I really loved Scythe, but Thunderhead takes the loose threads from book #1 and spins them into a whole new world of intrigue, danger, and suspense, with some really cool philosophical questions underlining the whole plot. While book #1 focuses on the Scythedom and Rowan and Citra’s place within it, book #2 continues this journey, but with more connection to the Thunderhead- the vast, all-knowing, God-like “server,” that monitors the world. Instead of being privy to the journals of the Scythes, we now get the journals/thoughts of the Thunderhead. The actions of the Scythes and Rowan, woven together with the thoughts of the all-seeing Thunderhead, created a brilliant contrast. This series just got even better! Here were some major highlights for me:
The journals/thoughts of the Thunderhead were so fascinating. “He” is a strange hybrid God/hard drive/protector of humankind and his thoughts contemplate this role as “God” and the future of humankind. “I am the child who has become the parent. The creation that aspires toward creator.” “Calling me unnatural is a compliment. For am I not superior to nature?”
Philosophical Concepts- This is a very thoughtful book. Every concept that is brought to light and explored in the story is carefully chosen. The question of the religious Tonist and whether or not they should be taken seriously is constantly brought up throughout the book. Yes, many of their ideas seem ridiculous, but there is so much good that comes from them too. They are able to offer Greyson a safe harbor and in the end are we meant to believe that they did in fact predicted the “Great Resonance”? These are all questions that Shusterman is leaving the reader to ponder. He also brings up questions that connect to the American Constitution. The rules (the Constitution) of Foundering Scythe’s (The Founding Fathers) are questioned and the readers is forced to ask – where do we draw the line when it comes to preserving those rules over 100s of years and still evolving? There is so much that Shusterman is asking the reader to ponder here and it is all done with the light touch that never feels forced but is still thought provoking.
Forbidden Love- The forbidden love between Rowan and Citra really grabbed my attention in this book. Since they are not able to see much of one another in this book, their love for each other and their longing seemed to grow. “Even now, when he was hunted and she was yoked with the heavy responsibility of scythehood, how could there be anything between them but a dark well of longing?” I wasn’t completely on board with their romance after book #1, but I am totally there for them now.
The use of fairy tales: I really liked the way that Shusterman managed to weave the subtle nods to fairy tales into this novel- the use of the Island of Nod were really clever and I can’t wait to see how that plays out in book #3.
Humor- There were so many moments that made me laugh:
“Deadish men tell no tales for a while,”
“Scythe Poe, who always seemed to be even more lugubrious than his Patron Historic said “I do not wish to be the harbinger of doom but……”the truth of this hit home for all of them just as thoroughly as a raven at the chamber door.”
Citra and Rowan individually- Because Rowan and Citra don’t spend much time together in this book, they each become major forces in their own unique ways. We know from book #1 that they are both “special” and selected by the Thunderhead to save the world, but they both become totally badass in this book. Rowan is out killing corrupt Scythe’s and Citra consistently uses her smarts to gain power within the scythedom. I really fell in love with them in this book and can’t wait to see what they accomplish in book #3.
THAT ENDING! I don’t want to spoil anything for future readers, but I will just warn you that the last 50 pages are crazy suspenseful, anxiety inducing, and freaking awesome!
I honestly have nothing negative at all to say. The writing is impeccable, so many interesting concepts are explored, the characters are endearing and complex, and the suspenseful ending is the perfect setup for book #3, which I am now so crazy excited for! If you love YA dystopian, this is it as its BEST! As always, I would love to hear from you~ happy reading!
For more information on Neal Shusterman and his books, check her out on Goodreads