Thunderhead (Arc of the Scythe 2)
By Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.
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 gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero 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?
This was a buddy read with Debby @AlwaysBooking. We co-read and reviewed Scythe (Arc of Scythe 1) last year, so picking up Thunderhead was a no-brainer. We have stuck with the traditional format of 5 questions each and our final thoughts. IYou read Debby’s final thoughts here. As with all sequels, we try to avoid potential spoilers, but I recommend holding off until having read the first book.
Debby’s Responses to My Questions:
YES!! A thousand times yes, I cannot get enough of these characters…they are definitely evolving throughout this series. There are things about these characters as they evolve that test them as Scythes and as humans.
2. There was increased focus on a few scythes that while present in book one, are now a primary part of the plot. How did you feel about this development in events?
I felt it was very much-needed, the focus on the new scythes gave us different points of view we didn’t have in book one. We needed these view points for many aspects of book two.
3. Thunderhead gives us further insight into the actual Thunderhead and the purpose it serves. How did this effect your experience with the plot and characters?
It actually terrified me, I’m really trying not give away spoilers. So I think I’ll leave it at that…
4. Again, without spoilers, what felt significantly different when comparing your experience with Scythe & Thunderhead, if anything?
Scythe was the set up for all the emotional turmoil and plot twists of Thunderhead… uh did I spoil anything?
5. Were there any aspects of the book that you struggled with (good or bad)?
I don’t think there were any bad points for me. The plot twists for me where hard to handle, some things happened that actually made me cry in this book. I don’t want to give anything away…
My Responses to Debby’s:
1. Holy plot twists batman!! Did you guess any of those plot twists??????
There were a few moments when I thought I had certain events figured out, but then Shusterman would successfully slip in at least one major element that would completely catch me off guard. Throughout the whole book, I can honestly (and happily) admit to only predicting one portion of the plot completely. I love the nonstop bends and turns Thunderhead takes the reader through! It made for an incredibly fast paced read.
2. Since we both seemed to have favorites in the first book as far as characters, I was wondering if your favorite has changed???
My favoritism did waiver some. Maybe not completely shift, but character actions did have some influence on my pre-established feelings. I cannot elaborate without divulging spoilers though!
3. There are new characters added into book 2, How did you feel about the addition of the new character(s)?
They were a welcomed addition and necessary. I had approached Thunderhead with a bit of apprehension in terms of trying to understand how Shusterman was going to expand on the existing story, but a large portion of that was addressed through the new characters. They provided a fantastic new layer of depth!
4. These characters just keep evolving to more heights than I could imagine. Which character do you think evolved the most?
I am inclined to say that character development was pretty equal and well-balanced throughout. I particularly enjoyed Citra’s growth, but each character’s evolution felt incredibly significant.
5. Will you be pre-ordering the 3rd book when available???
Are you kidding?! With that ending, how can you even ask? I need book three immediately! I think that was one of the most intense endings I have ever encountered.
My Final Thoughts..
I entered into Thunderhead with a mix of high expectations and hesitation. Scythe sets a pretty high bar in terms of YA Dystopian books, and as most of you know, it is one of my favorite genres. It was hard to imagine Shusterman successfully evolving and expanding what already felt so complete and original. I was at a loss for what direction this plot-line could possibly take at this point.
Not only has he managed to accomplish all of the above, but improved on it. With the substantial growth of existing characters and the welcomed addition of a few new, the plot takes many rewarding and unexpected turns that once again, deliver an original experience that leaves the reader craving more.
Incredible pacing, make for an effortless read with an ending that leaves its hooks deep in you, begging for a third installment. A must for dystopian fans!
Enjoyed with a nice cuppa English Breakfast.