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Storm’s A-Brewin’

Thunderhead, the sequel to Neal Shusterman’s Scythe, dives deep into the underlying issues of the "utopian" society.

Storm’s A-Brewin’

BOOK REPORT for Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman

Cover Story: Optical Illusion
BFF Charm: Yay, Natalie Imbruglia
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: Dystopian
Bonus Factor: Treasure Hunt
Factor: Skynet
Anti-Bonus Factor: [REDACTED]
Relationship Status: Let’s Become Preppers

Danger, Will Robinson! Thunderhead is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series. If you have not read the first book in the series—Scythe—turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the first book, however, feel free to continue below.

Cover Story: Optical Illusion

I don’t think I noticed this about the cover of the first book in this series, but this is totally “is this an old woman or a young woman” image, with the top of the scythe pole forming two faces looking at each other. So clever!

The flames look super cheese, though.

The Deal:

Scythe Anastasia—neé Citra Terranova—has found a routine in her new life as a Scythe. But she’s not done shaking the Scythedom up.

Rowan Damisch might not be an official Scythe, but he’s found a calling as Scythe Lucifer, and uses the skills he learned during his apprenticeship to glean those Scythes who have fallen off the good path.

The Thunderhead sees the both of them, but cannot interfere in their lives or their chosen paths. It can, however, ponder its own existence, and consider how best to serve humanity … but what, exactly, that might mean to the all-powerful intelligence remains to be seen.

BFF Charm: Yay, Natalie Imbruglia

Scythes don’t typically have friends who aren’t also Scythes, since having friends would be seen as having a bias. But were they able to have friends, I’d like to think that Citra/Anastasia and I would hit it off. She’s stuck in a tough position, but is doing her job wisely and as kindly as possible. She knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and trusts her gut when it comes to situations that aren’t exactly on the level. She’d be great to go to for advice, and I’d try to be a “normal” place she could go to just be herself. (Even though, to be completely honest, I’d struggle with my fear of her, too.)

Rowan is a loose cannon, and although I appreciate his resolve to right the wrongs of the Scythedom, he’s a scary mother effer. His world views are so black and white, it would be hard to be around him and not constantly feel like he was judging you. At the same time, however, there’s something appealing about his sort of vigilantism, like he’s a skewed version of a superhero. (It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a master of martial arts and totally ripped because of it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Citra and Rowan’s feelings for each other haven’t gone away, but their positions—and the fact that Rowan’s literally on the run from the Scythedom—make it near impossible for them to be together, much less actually be in the same location at the same time. I’m thinking good thoughts for the crazy kids, but I don’t have too much hope that the rules of their world are going to change drastically enough to let them actually happen.

Talky Talk: Dystopian

The far future in which Earth is run by the Thunderhead, people are essentially immortal, and Scythes keep the population under control is perfect—on the surface. But where there’s humanity, there are issues, and Shusterman does an amazing job of creating a world that seems like a Utopia, but is balancing on a very fine wire, and there’s a strong wind in the forecast.

Bonus Factor: Treasure Hunt

A side plot in Thunderhead leads a secondary character on a hunt to find a truth that was hidden by the founding Scythes. What that truth means for the series isn’t clear, but I’m sure it’ll have major impact in the next book.

Factor: Skynet

I like the Thunderhead, I do. It’s just … it scares me a little, and reading its POV in Thunderhead makes me really nervous.

Anti-Bonus Factor: [REDACTED]

I can’t reveal exactly what this anti-bonus factor is because spoilers, but DAMN if it isn’t the creepiest thing to come out of this series yet. It has something to do with two old “friends,” the advanced technology of the world that brings people back from being deadish, and an attempt to take advantage of a loophole. Just thinking about it makes me shudder.

Relationship Status: Let’s Become Preppers

Life seems good now, Book, but our second date gave me a serious sense of foreboding. I’ll get the water jugs, you get the MREs? I know a place we can go that’s off the grid. I hope you’re good at gardening, because I have a terrible black thumb.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Thunderhead is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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