Goodreads: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
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?
“That’s exactly what the scythedom is: high school with murder.”
A somewhat slower paced sequel to Scythe but it is no less enjoyable. I savoured learning more about this dystopia and I became even more invested in the characters. I loved the Thunderhead and as a reader, I felt its helplessness to do anything very acutely!
The world building is just as complex and creative as in the first book. In this book we learn more about the Thunderhead’s history and how it fairly and sustainably runs the world. We also go deeper into the political divide in the Scythedom. Truly, we humans are our own worst enemies. Shusterman continues to present thought-provoking writing, especially from the Thunderhead’s POV, that really made me reflect on what we’re doing not only to our world but to ourselves. We also learn about other parts of the world like Israebia with a rebuilt Great Library of Alexandria and D.C. with a neglected Library of Congress. But most fascinating to me was Endura, the heart of the Scythedom and where the Grandslayers of the World Scythe Council reside.
“The two of them against each other. The two of them against the world. Everything in their lives was now defined by that binary. If they had to die today in order to live, it would somehow be wrong if they didn’t do it together.”
There were several plot twists in the story that had me shook. Since this was a re-read and I obviously knew what was coming, I didn’t feel as shook as the first time but it still left me in awe. Shusterman introduced many elements that had me hanging on to the edge of my seat in sheer anticipation. That said, on top of the world building elements I sometimes still felt that there was a little too much information. I also felt that the pacing was more erratic with parts that were full of action and then others that moved at a glacial pace. While the slow pace did help me savour the writing, it also made me want to skim through a lot of the parts to get to the action at the end.
While Citra and Rowan still play the MCs, we’re also introduced to a new character: Grayson Tolliver. We also get entries from the Thunderhead sharing its history and thoughts as events happen. I loved the Thunderhead. I was getting some strong AIDAN (from the Illuminae Files) vibes but much less “sinister” and more benevolent. I also really liked Grayson’s character. He starts off as a meek young man, who just like everyone else is greatly dependent on the Thunderhead, but his growth is steady and rewarding as he goes through various trials. There were times that I felt bad for him, but he also had a great inner strength and resolve that I admired. With the ending of Thunderhead, I’m really curious to see what happens next with these characters and what role they’ll play in the finale.
“I can communicate in 6,909 living and dead languages. I can have more than fifteen billion simultaneous conversations, and be fully engaged in every single one. I can be eloquent, and charming, funny, and endearing, speaking the words you most need to hear, at the exact moment you need to hear them.
Yet even so, there are unthinkable moments where I can find no words, in any language, living or dead.
And in those moments, if I had a mouth, I might open it to scream.”
Also, I’m not going to talk about what happens at the end of the book, but I will say that it is literally what some of my worst nightmares are made of! Especially with what happens in the World Council chamber. I get goosebumps thinking about how horrifying it is 🤣 You can bet that I was still exclaiming my WTFs during this re-read! Overall, this was a great read and I’m keen to see how such a devastating ending in book two will turn around in the final–that is assuming it will turn around (I really hope so)! Seeing what Shusterman did in this book, I know we’re going to be in for some jaw-dropping surprises and I hope that they’re all good ones!
Have you read Thunderhead or is it on your TBR?