Thunderhead by Neil Schusterman
Summary from Goodreads:
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?
Before reading Scythe and Thunderhead, I had only read two other books by Neil Shusterman. And while I liked those two books, neither of them prepared me for how brilliant Neil’s writing could be. The world he has created in this series is phenomenal. It only continues to get better in this second book as we get some insight into the Thunderhead’s thoughts and we also get to see more of the world outside of the scythdom as well as more scythes.
Both Rowan and Citra continue to grow into very interesting young adults. Citra develops an interesting way of gleaning people, giving them a more compassionate ending to their lives. I loved her interactions with Scythe Curie and even the other scythes she meets throughout the story. She is becoming known as a leader and some one to be admired among the junior scythes. Rowan is only gleaning ‘bad’ scythes, but his journey is not as straight forward as Citra’s and his past does come back to haunt him. His story line is a hard and sad one that made me angry at times at how poorly he has been treated by most throughout the books. I love that they still maintain feelings for each other, even though they spend very little time together.
There are many new characters as well as ones from the first book making appearances. One of the more interesting new characters is Scythe Constantine. He is the head of the Scythe policing force and the one in charge of capturing Rowan. For most of the book you are not sure which side he is on, but he does what needs to be done, even when it isn’t necessarily the best thing for those involved. Greyson Tolliver is also a new and very important character. His story arc goes from average ordinary citizen to possible the most important person in the world. It will be interesting to see how his story progresses in the next book.
In this book we hear a lot from the Thunderhead. In the first book there are excerpts from different Scythes journals at the beginning of the chapters. In this book we get musing from the Thunderhead. Sometimes these are comments on what is happening in the story, but some are musings about how the Thunderhead came about and how it perceives the world. The book would be a very different story without these insights. There are also two chapters that are told from the Thunderheads point of view, by this I mean it is watching the action through the cameras and thinking about what is going on.
Although there is not as much gleaning in this book as the first, or even people becoming deadish, there are some hard deaths to work through. The pacing of this book is also a bit slower, up until the last 100 pages when you won’t be able to put it down.
I purchased an exclusive copy from Barnes and Noble that included chapter comments from the author. Having that commentary was fascinating. It really gave some insights into the story and what Neil Shusterman was thinking as the story progressed. It is almost like having the author there to make comments as you are reading the book. I would definitely buy this type of book again as it did enhance the enjoyment of the book.
I really love this series and I am so glad there is at least one more book. I am looking forward to seeing how it all ends up especially after the explosive ending to this one.