Title: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Teen/young adult, Science fiction, Thriller, Dystopian
Book format: Paperback
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Description:  Professional scythes control death.  The Thunderhead controls everything else.  It’s the perfect system.  Until it isn’t.
It’s been a year since Rowan went off-grid.  Hunted by the Scythedom, he as become an urban legend, a vigilante sniffing out corrupt scythes.  Citra, meanwhile, is forging her path as Scythe Anastasia, gleaning with compassion.  However, conflict amongst the scythes is growing, 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 is simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Oh wow, wow, wow! I’m shaking after reading this book, it was so good! ‘Thunderhead’ is the second book in the ‘Arc of a Scythe’ trilogy, with ‘Scythe’ being the first. The book picks up the story a year after the ending of the previous one and a lot has happened to the characters. It’s important to read the first book in this trilogy, as trying to read this as a stand alone won’t have the same impact and it’s important to know who all the characters are to get the most out of this tale (and if you haven’t read Scythe yet then this review may reveal spoilers from that book).

A year after their apprenticeship Citra and Rowan are leading very different lives. As Scythe Anastasia, Citra is becoming confident in her new role, gleaning people with a new and different method, while Rowan has embraced his new role as Scythe Lucifer, taking down the corrupt new-order Scythes. Despite their positive work though, the two factions of new-order and old-guard Scythes are clashing more and more, and a new revelation makes things worse, making the Thunderhead question whether it should intervene.

This book is far deeper and more thought-provoking than the last, as well as being such an amazing read. I had just finished Scythe so I was still reeling a little from that book and decided to start on Thunderhead right away. Just like in the first book, the story moves about between Citra and Rowan while also concentrating, for the first time, on another young person, Greyson Tolliver. This new character has a completely different tale, separate from the other two but I felt for him right away and as his story deepens I found myself not only excited to see what would happen next but extremely emotional. The Thunderhead has a bigger role in this book too, we hear its thoughts at the end of every chapter, rather than the thoughts of Scythes, like in the first book. The Thunderhead’s own thoughts are very interesting and for the first time we really get to know this sentient being and how it thinks. I really enjoyed this new angle to the trilogy as the Thunderhead’s own personality seems to evolve from something that didn’t seem to have much of one to a character with deep thoughts and feelings.

I won’t reveal what happens in the story, it makes for a far better impact to read it for yourself, but the whole tale has kept me reading, glued to every page and unable to think about much else. The story is much more dramatic than before, there’s a big shock, one I wasn’t expecting, and what happens in this book has a massive impact on the future of both the Scythedom and humanity. It also has a deeper impact in my own mind as I can see how deep some of the questions in this book are, you don’t have to think too deeply about the things the Thunderhead contemplates, but it does make you think deeper about the true nature and existence of things like god and I can’t help but notice that the island towards the end of the book seems spookily similar to one in mythology.

The book has an ending that kept me gripped until the end and it leaves the whole tale of what’s happening in the world on a cliffhanger. The ending is also an emotional one for me as I really got into this book and got to know the characters so well. The whole story felt like I was watching a movie and I’m excited that Scythe is actually being turned into one, and I’m sure, in time, this book will have it’s own movie too. The book has one use of the s swear word and does mention killing a lot with some dark descriptions which younger teens may not enjoy reading, however there’s nothing else offensive in this, and the story is one I’m sure adults would enjoy as much as teens.

I can’t contain myself but will have to while waiting for the next book. I’m already running through hundreds of ideas as to what could happen in my head but I’m sure I haven’t got a clue as neither ‘Scythe’ nor ‘Thunderhead’ has been predictable in any way. I definitely recommend this book along with ‘Scythe’, while the first book was very good this one has been stunning, even better than the previous. It’s so dark, emotional, exciting and compelling to read, I just hope the last book won’t disappoint.

-Review first appeared online May 2018 – now republished here.


Have you read any of the series yet?  What science fiction thrillers do you enjoy reading, or do you not enjoy them?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂