Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I will try to write this review without any spoilers. I really enjoyed this book, the second in the Arc of the Scythe series, The Thunderhead. It picks up about one year after the first book ended. I felt like the first book was more focused on how the Scythes interacted with civilians and gleaned (killed) to curb population growth since death and illness had been conquered on Earth. The second book was more focused on political intrigue, the inner workings of the Scythedom as well as a closer look at the computer system, The Thunderhead, that managed, cared for and protected civilians, but is separate and apart from the Scythe world.
The continued world building in this book is fascinating. One thing the author does in a lot of his series is included journal entries or letters between chapters. In the first book, they were the entries of Scythes, but this time, it was primarily entries from the Thunderhead, itself. The Thunderhead was pretty quiet in the first book, so this was really fascinating. Also, we are introduced to Greyson Tolliver, who also gives more insight into the Thunderhead as well.
The book moves pretty fast and was pretty plot driven. I enjoyed all of the new settings and how they fit in and interacted with the rest of the world. And some of the plot twists I did not see coming.
I don’t remember there being any profanity in this series. There really wasn’t much sexual content in the book either, other than one person ogling another person. There is one scene where a character throws themselves at another character in a very vulnerable way, but there isn’t anything graphic. But the violence is pretty substantial. The books are, after all, about a group of people who kill people to help curb the population growth. So, keep that in mind.
Even though the premise is morbid, I still recommend the series. And the second book is even better than the first. I am looking forward to the third book in the series!
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a YA dystopian future novel. In this future, technology has advanced to the point that there is no sickness or death. People don’t experience hunger, mental illness or really any poverty. But in order to maintain the population growth, an ordained group of people called the Scythes are created to “glean” a certain quota of people each year. They are above the law, though they do follow their own set of laws. They can glean whoever they want, as long as it isn’t with prejudice.
The two main characters, Citra and Rowan, are chosen by Scythe Faraday to be his apprentices. At the end of the one-year apprenticeship, only one will be chosen to become a scythe. Each scythe has their own philosophy on gleaning, and there are two camps within the Scythedom. One gleans with compassion (though the compassion manifests in different ways) and the other gleans with efficiency (and slight enjoyment). Whoever becomes the new scythe will have to decide whose camp they belong to.
The book is written in the third person, mostly from the perspectives of Citra and Rowan. There were a few moments that were written from other characters’ perspectives in order to reveal something that wouldn’t be known by the two main characters. There were a couple of plot twists in the story as well, but most of them were pretty predictable.
Citra and Rowan’s characters definitely evolve in different ways by the end of the book. And their choices and experiences, as well as their lives before the apprenticeship, play a part in this transformation. The author does a really good job of showing how all of these things affect their outcomes.
I don’t recall much in the way of profanity in the book. As far as sexual content, there is a kissing scene, but not much else. Primarily, this book has a lot of violence. Scythes can glean pretty much however they want to, so there are a variety of killings and deaths in the book. Also, there is a brief mention of people who jump off of tall buildings, knowing that they will be revived in the revival centers. It’s not true suicide, but more like high-risk activities. When people do get injured to the point of death, they are referred to as deadish but can be revived at the centers. The only way you cannot be revived is if you are gleaned.
There is a lot of talk about death and mortality, the last moments of someone when they find out they will be gleaned. It’s an interesting commentary on someone’s last moments before dying, even in the present world. The second book in this series came out at the beginning of the year, and I hope to get my hands on it soon to find out what happens next.