Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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Title: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Walker Books

Date: 3rd May 2018

I think I found it, my favourite book I have ever read. No, that’s not right. This is my favourite series I’ve ever read. I find it funny how I was wary when I started reading Scythe, mainly because I’m a fantasy girl, but this story has blown me away. Everything about it is incredible! The writing, the characters, the plot twists, and the world building is on another level. I’ve never read another series like this, and I’ve even convinced my dad to give it a try, which is a feat in itself as he doesn’t read many books. Be warned, there will be spoilers for the first book in this review of Thunderhead, but you can check out my review for Scythe here.

Thunderhead picks up a year after the events of Scythe, with Citra becoming known as Scythe Anastasia, gleaning with compassion in an unorthodox way with Scythe Curie as her mentor, while Rowan has gone off the grid, hunting down corrupt scythes under the guise of Scythe Lucifer. The Thunderhead sees all that is happening in and around the Scythedom, some of which he is pleased about and others he is not, yet he is powerless to intervene. But when it becomes clear that Citra and Scythe Curie’s lives are being threatened, the Thunderhead must decide if it should intervene in the only way it can. Greyson Tolliver has grown up under the guidance of the Thunderhead, his parents abandoning him at a young age, and the Thunderhead has plans for the boy that will make him question everything. Unfortunately for the Scythedom, there will be times where the all-powerful Thunderhead finds himself powerless to help the world that is beginning to crumble around them.

I finished Thunderhead a couple of days ago and I am still reeling from having finished it. The ending was incredible, with the last fifty or so pages filled with so many plot twists and revelations. All I could do was stare as I reached the last page and curse the fact that the third book isn’t out yet. How can I wait for so long after a cliffhanger like that? Scythe was such an incredible read and I knew it would be tough to follow it up, but somehow Thunderhead did just that. I felt that the plot was more intriguing for the second book, with so many moving pieces that I had no idea what was going to happen until it was all unfolding before me.

Something that I loved about this sequel was that we got to delve deeper into the Thunderhead and what it feels about the world and the Scythedom. This was done in the form of journal entries, replacing those in the first book that were from the scythes. We get to see more emotion from the Thunderhead and see that all it wants is the best for humanity, making it a benevolent force in the story, which is refreshing given that most AI is portrayed as being the ‘bad guy’.

Each entry gave little hints as to what was to come in the story and it really helped to expand on this incredible world that Shusterman has created. We got to travel with Citra and Scythe Curie as they were on the run from those wanting to kill them, and visit Texas, where the Thunderhead doesn’t enforce the rules, which was interesting to read about. Not only that, but we are introduced to the Unsavories, people that the Thunderhead has branded as being rebellious and a disruption to society, which has an important role to play within the story. There are also the Tonists, who we were introduced to in Scythe, and are the only religious faction left in the world who are searching for the Great Resonance.

I would say that the only downside to Thunderhead is that I didn’t get to read more about Citra and Rowan, as we had new characters making an appearance, such as Greyson. I was unsure what his role in the story would be, as it progressed quite slowly, but gradually everything began to make sense. I think that is what I love about Shusterman’s writing. He can weave a story so easily, with so much detail, and when everything finally fits together it genuinely shocks you that you didn’t see if before. There are some massive shocks in this book that I can’t talk about, because spoilers, but the stakes are so high in the sequel.

While I didn’t see as much of Citra and Rowan as I wanted to, it was wonderful to see how they had changed since the events of Scythe. Citra has become a strong woman with opinions that challenge those of the other scythes. She doesn’t back down and that is one of the things I love about her. Not only that, but we also see a different side to her relationship with Scythe Curie, one that is caring and sweet. Sacrifices are made in this book, and as heart breaking as they were, it only grew my love for the characters. Scythe Faraday also features in Thunderhead as he embarks on his own quest to discover if there is a way to save the Scythedom from destroying itself due to the corruption of the New Order scythes. While there are questions left unanswered, I am sure that the third book will give them to me.

I could go on and on talking about this book and the series. I can’t remember the last time I fell head over heels like this for a book and it is so refreshing. Arc of a Scythe is definitely a series that I could read again, which will most likely happen before the final book ‘The Toll’ comes out next year. I just don’t know how long the wait will be, considering there isn’t a final date proposed yet. However, I am looking forward to seeing what the cover for The Toll will be as the other two are some of my favourites!

Overall, this book is amazing and a worthy sequel to Scythe. If you haven’t read this series then get out there and buy them, because I can assure you that you won’t regret it! 5 out of 5 stars for me, but if I could give it more I would.

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Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Walker Books

Date: 1st February 2018

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I finally did it. I finally found a sci-fi book that I fell head over heels for. I had heard of so many people loving this book, and while I was hesitant at first I decided to give it a try. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, mainly because I can’t get into it, but from the get go I was hooked by Scythe. It is such a unique book, with an incredible world that feels so similar, yet foreign to us as a reader. There were little references to things we have into our world now, and Shusterman has created characters that I rooted for and that I cared about.

All of the world’s problems have been solved. There is no more hunger and poverty, no war and disease, no more pain and death. The Thunderhead has created a perfect world that is safe for everyone in it. To curb over-population the Scythedom was created, granting Scythes the power to ‘glean’ people. Due to strange circumstances, both Citra and Rowan have been chosen to become scythe apprentices under Honorable Scythe Faraday. Neither wanted this, but now they must master the art of being a Scythe in order to save their lives. For it has been decided that only one can become a fully-fledged Scythe and must glean the other.

I really enjoyed learning about how the Thunderhead came about. It was once the ‘cloud’, which I’m assuming is a reference to software we have now, and it grew to become this all-seeing thing. It has taken control from the governments who are no more, and it protects its citizens, although people are still scared of it. However, the Thunderhead has no control over the Scythedom, which is a really interesting concept given what happens in this novel.

The idea that there is no death is so strange. Of course, accidents do happen but there are revival centres that can bring you back to life. And if you reach the age of 80 and dislike the way you look, you can take a ‘turn’ and go back to being young again. Essentially you could live forever, and it made me wonder what it would be like to live in this world. Honestly, I’m not quite sure I would like it.

Scythe Faraday was a really interesting character, especially with his approach to gleaning. Each scythe has a different technique that they use to glean, and his involves a lot of data and using lots of different weapons. It’s actually quite fascinating how he chooses the people to glean by seeing the statistics of certain deaths in our day and age, then choosing someone who fits into them. He was a really unexpected character that I wish to see more of.

Something that I thought was a great addition to the story was the diary excerpts from infamous Scythes that were before each new chapter. The content in them was often reflected in the story and the people who wrote them eventually feature in the story prominently. I won’t give too much away, but those characters were so intriguing, and I hope I can find out more about them in the sequel.

Then we have Citra and Rowan. The book is mainly in their perspectives, and shows how they handle the circumstances they have been thrust into. Something happens that causes them to drift and from that point on the story is tense because we have no idea what is going to happen. Even towards the end there are plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I loved every one! I think Citra was my favourite, mainly because she was fierce and didn’t take any crap, although I felt sorry for Rowan at some points in the story.

This book is so addictive and I couldn’t get enough of the world. The ending hooked me and I couldn’t order Thunderhead quick enough! On the front cover of my edition, Maggie Stiefvater said that it was a ‘true successor to The Hunger Games’ and I agree with her. I definitely got that kind of vibe so if you enjoyed that series and love dystopian sci-fi worlds, I would recommend reading Scythe. It was so easy to give this book a solid five stars.

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