Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – Book Review
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – Book Review
Arc of a Scythe Book Two
Author – Neal Shusterman
Publisher – Walker Books
Pages – 528
Released – 3rd May 2018
ISBN-13 – 978-1406379532
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio
Reviewer – Nia
Rating – 5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book
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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?
I’m so glad that I read this book directly after the first in the series, I was still very much in the zone and this book was absolute perfection.
I felt that Scythe, the first book, was a little slow in the action and pacing department but it turns out that it was all about setting things up for this book – the politics we were introduced to have now taken a dark turn, we learn more about the Thunderhead and its origins, and Citra and Rowan are now finding their footing in the world of scythes. The Thunderhead is a giant AI system created by humans to run the world and sustain humanity, exploring what all that means is fascinating and a deeply compelling read. The pacing is punchy, taking us from one event to another with just the right amount of suspense and intrigue in between.
We’re introduced to a new main character in this book, Greyson, a regular person who was raised by the Thunderhead rather than his negligent parents. The author then tells us about events from the perspectives of Greyson, Rowan and Citra, with journal style entries by the Thunderhead between each chapter. So that’s two people who can’t communicate with the AI that runs the world, one who was raised by it and the AI itself which has to abide by its own rules, which means being unable to intervene in events despite being able to see what’s coming.
The best thing about this book is the huge and unpredictable leaps it takes with the narrative; some things you can see coming but others will leave you reeling. The author isn’t afraid to do some risky things, which I think pays off big time. Knowing that absolutely anything could happen makes it more exciting and a 500 page gut punch, which has left me devastated that the next instalment hasn’t been published yet.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the cover art for this series – I LOVE the cover design, I can’t wait for the entire series to be released so I can decide whether or not it would be too obsessive to have a poster made of them all.
Reviewed by Nia
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About the Author
Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine, where he made his mark on the UCI swim team, and wrote a successful humor column. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movie script.
In the years since, Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. As a full-time writer, he claims to be his own hardest task-master, always at work creating new stories to tell. His books have received many awards from organizations such as the International Reading Association, and the American Library Association, as well as garnering a myriad of state and local awards across the country. Neal’s talents range from film directing (two short films he directed won him the coveted CINE Golden Eagle Awards) to writing music and stage plays – including book and lyrical contributions to “American Twistory,” which is currently played in several major cities. He has even tried his hand at creating Games, having developed three successful “How to Host a Mystery” game for teens, as well as seven “How to Host a Murder” games.
As a screen and TV writer, Neal has written for the “Goosebumps” and “Animorphs” TV series, and wrote the Disney Channel Original Movie “Pixel Perfect”. Currently Neal is developing an original TV series with his son, Jarrod, and adapting Tesla’s Attic with co-writer Eric Elfman for TV as well.
Wherever Neal goes, he quickly earns a reputation as a storyteller and dynamic speaker. Much of his fiction is traceable back to stories he tells to large audiences of children and teenagers — such as his novel The Eyes of Kid Midas. As a speaker, Neal is in constant demand at schools and conferences. Degrees in both psychology and drama give Neal a unique approach to writing. Neal’s novels always deal with topics that appeal to adults as well as teens, weaving true-to-life characters into sensitive and riveting issues, and binding it all together with a unique and entertaining sense of humor.