Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) Book Review
WARNING. Spoilers for Scythe (the first book) are ahead!
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?
NEAL YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN. GIVE ME THE THIRD BOOK. NOW.
TRYING SUPER HARD TO REMAIN SPOILER FREE BUT GODDAMN THAT ENDING.
Let’s get on with this review!
I had to get my hands on this book asap after reading Scythe because I enjoyed it so much. I imagined and hoped it would be even better than its predecessor and I was not wrong. I picked my physical copy up by accident actually, cause the bookstore near my university had early copies in the last week of May even though it was technically supposed to be released on June 1st – idc good for me right?
The cover game was also ‘effin STRONG just like the first book and honestly when the cover of a book is attractive, I’m way more keen to keep reading it haha.
This book was a slow burn. The kind of slow burn I love, the slow burn that reminds of me Laini Taylor’s work because you can tell it’s a massive build up, and the little things here and there are like clues to one big hella mystery. It definitely made me want to keep reading and to read faster. Now with my hectic schedule, it didn’t feel as slow because I was reading in bouts of about 50-100 pages. I massively enjoyed the pace of the book, and the writing was gorgeous once again.
I suspected that the narrator in Scythe was the Thunderhead because it was so impartial, had a great calm and soothing voice/tone and the journals of the scythes were all available on its database so it was almost like it was giving us extra info on a silver platter. BUT. In this book, this felt like the REAL Thunderhead. The A.I that we all expected to explode and go crazy at any moment *cough* AIDEN *cough* actually didn’t, and being able to read its thoughts, abilities and recollections was really enriching. The Thunderhead has a personality and it has feelings! Kind of! I loved reading from his point of view, how his thought patterns are presented and his thoughts on humanity. The emphasis on how flawed humans are is so nice somehow, and his struggle with wanting to help Citra and Rowan but not being able to, legally by his own laws, is so evident. It’s also got a sneaky streak, his ability to almost find loopholes *enters Greyson into the plot* was really fun to read. Thunderhead is probably my favourite character if you can call him that since he isn’t a person but anyway, moving on.
The world building was taken to another level in this book. We didn’t just get to see glimpses of people’s everyday lives, but got to explore other territories; mainly the Unsavoury and Endura. The way Shusterman describes and basically illustrates these new intricate communities and social groups was awesome, and it really defined and created another level of this world. It also gave me a better idea of the serious advances in technology during this time and how dependent humans have become on it and on the Thunderhead that it’s actually a complex concept for children to understand, of technology physically being out of order.
Shusterman also still continued to incorporate the community of Tonists as well which was interesting and shows how important I guess they must be to the storyline and the world-building. It definitely is a point that whether it’s in this world or ours, religion and worship is always going to be a part of human society. Some humans worshipped the Thunderhead and some worshipped anything like the Tone, there’s always faith.
To avoid spoilers, this is going to be vague.
In this book, so many new side-characters were included, older characters from the previous book also showed up and I also loved all the new international characters. It was nice that for once not all the scythes were American, a multicultural aspect to this community was great to read.
Citra and Rowan will forever be among my top favourite characters, their character development was even better as they continued to mature and develop their new roles and lives throughout the book.
One of the best characters was also a NEW main character named Greyson Tolliver. He is so central to the book’s plot and the schemes and mysteries going on in this world as the Thunderhead tries to help Citra and Rowan. I loved his personality and could really empathise with his attitude and confusion at many times. I’m excited to see how important his role is and he becomes in the next book!
At the start, I really didn’t know what I was getting into in terms of plot. If Shusterman wanted, Scythe could’ve easily ended as a single book with a little mystery at the end. The blurb was mostly about the Thunderhead on the back of the book, so going in I was a little clueless but that plot thickened faster than mac n cheese on simmer. There was so much more action, suspense and craaaaazy drama, especially political drama. I was loving it.
The writing and content were even better than in Scythe. So many more themes and issues are embedded into the story; free will, choice, power and the concept of immortality. It was thought-provoking and compelling.
THAT ENDING. WAY TO GO NEAL. Such an epic ending, it was BOMB AF. I am so so so excited for the third book!!!! I initially thought it’d be a duology like many people but so happy for a third book. WE HAVE A YEAR AND A TITLE. I can’t wait for the release date so I can start counting down.
I truly loved this book, there wasn’t much I could fault about it. It was a bit slow, albeit a great slow burn, but there wasn’t anything inherently negative I can even think of about it. This is definitely one of my new favourite series. Neal never seems to let me down, I loved Unwind, I loved this. I hope to read more of his books in the future, he’s got so many I’m scared to start cause my tbr will murder me. Anyway, I recommend anyone to pick up this series so far. LOVED IT.
Also, two words: SCYTHE BEYONCÉ.
HAHA He retweeted it!!! It was so funny, I hope I can meet this man one day.
Until my next review,