Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)
Neal Shusterman
Simon & Schuster
Published January 9, 2018

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About Thunderhead

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?

Thunderhead on Goodreads

My Review

Okay, let me review this backwards and say that the ending of this book hit me like a kick to the guts. (Does that need a spoiler warning? I don’t know. I feel like we can expect the ending of a second book in a trilogy to have a big issue because it sets up the final book and makes us desperate to read it?)

Anyway, now, days later, I’m kind of still reeling. I need gentle books for a while. Haha.

I think one of my favorite things about this series so far is the way the story pushes Scythe Anastasia (Citra) and Rowan apart and yet their feelings pull them together. They each have incredible strength and big things to contribute. I love that. What I’m not sure about yet is whether together, they’re more than the sum of their parts. I suspect that THE TOLL will address that pretty well.

As THUNDERHEAD progressed, I felt like I could see all the threads of the story pulling toward something big. At first the points-of-view all seem very separate– Citra, Rowan, and Grayson all seem to be individual characters with their own goals and motivations, intersecting at times but moving in totally different directions.

There are always hints at a bigger plot happening. And a greater evil emerging. I’m excited to see how all the threads weave together in the third book. Eventually. Once I get my insides sorted out and feel ready to face the end of the series. 🙂

As with Shusterman’s other books, this one has some heavy/dark themes. I think it’s balanced by incredible characters with deep moral values. Good guys committed to remarkable good in a world of others who are indifferent at best. True evil at worst.

Thunderhead on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

I don’t remember race details. It may be that most central characters are white? I’m not sure. I’ll try to revisit the book and update this.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to sex.

Spiritual Content
A cult called Tonists oppose the Thunderhead and Scythes.

Violent Content
Obviously descriptions of death where Scythes “glean” people. Some try to do this in humane ways while others revel in the violence and power of it. In one section, a character visits clubs in which patrons are permitted to bully or attack workers as part of extreme role playing.

One scythe decapitates and burns his victims after they’ve been killed. Some descriptions of and descriptions leading up to violent deaths.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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