Series Details: Arc of a Scythe #2
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 09, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
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?
Scythe was an unforgettable series starter. Unique theme, thrilling scenes, terrific world-building, and gorgeous writing—it was the best series foundation I could ask for. While we continue to enjoy these elements in Thunderhead—along with newly added characters—its pacing is noticeably slower compared to the first book. A good chunk of this installment is quite boring. I feel like there were too many parts that the book could’ve done without, and there were a lot of scenes that did nothing but stall the plot’s progression.
“Death must exist for life to have meaning.”
Again, Neal Shusterman awed us with the world-building which has expanded a great deal in this book as it explored religious themes. The conflicts within the Scythedom has become more and more complicated. Disagreements between the Old Guard and New Order scythes had deepened, which put the whole Scythedom in a forked road, its future uncertain. Thunderhead is also heavier on political intrigues compared to the first book, which I think, contributed to it having a slower pace.
“Ours is a perfect world—but perfection does not linger in one place. It is a firefly, by its very nature elusive and unpredictable.”
This book also took us deeper into the Thunderhead’s core. We get to see its enormous capabilities and influence, its limitations, and how it process things. We get to see the world—brutal, harsh, and flawed—through the perspective of something that is designed and programmed to be perfect. The more peeks we had of the Thunderhead’s brain leads to us understanding it better. I kind of like the idea that the Thunderhead is evolving from something that is purely just a product of an advance technology to a character that feels.
“To deny humanity the lesson of consequences would be a mistake. And I do not make mistakes.”
Citra and Rowan both serve the Scythedom but their ways couldn’t be any more different. Citra, now a full-time scythe, does things by the noble rules of the Scythedom, inspiring other scythes to do the same. I love how she had grown a lot off page and came back in this book as the strong, compassionate, and courageous Scythe Anastacia, who doesn’t hesitate to use her voice to influence others into keeping the Scythedom honorable. Rowan on the other hand, serves the Scythedom in his own dark, unofficial ways. Dubbed as Scythe Lucifer, he permanently gleans scythes who have become corrupt, not bothering with the laws and politics.
“If we were judged by the things we most regret, no human being would be worthy to sweep the floor.”
Aside from Citra and Rowan, this book also concentrates on a new character—Greyson Tolliver. I didn’t find Greyson’s part as enticing but his POV is a great way of showing the readers what’s happening outside the Scythedom. And everything outside the Scythedom is practically Thunderhead territory so this is where we get to know about the Thunderhead deeper—how vast is its control and how heavily the world relied on it.
Thunderhead is a long book and with things happening slowly, I often find myself putting it down and taking a break. Thankfully, the pace picked up wonderfully towards the end. The ending wasn’t shocking as I hoped but it sure was sad and infuriating—the kind of ending that makes you want to demand justice in the next installment. But Neal Shusterman left things pretty open to a lot of possibilities so it’s really difficult to guess which path the third book will take. I may not be as fascinated to this book because it’s very slow at some parts, but its plot lines are still very interesting. So I’ll definitely still pick up the next book to see how everything wraps up.