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Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

“Death must exist for life to have meaning.” After reading the first book Scythe, I was left with many questions and eager to know what happened to the characters I had become so attached to. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman was a beautiful, yet terrifying sequel that opened new plots that left me engrossed from the moment I read the first line to when I finished the final paragraph. I haven’t read a book so quickly in a long time. This book was dripping with blood and driven by clever, sadistic characters that left me uneasy and kept me thinking.

Thunderhead is a continuation of Scythe, set in a world where humanity has conquered death and the only way to die is to be gleaned by professional scythes. Rowan has been missing for a year and has become an urban legend for punishing corrupt scythes with stealth. For which, he is hunted by the Scythedome. Meanwhile, Citra has graduated to a scythe and gleans people with compassion. As the story progresses, and Citra’s life becomes threatened, it’s clear that their world is about to change for the better or worse.

In the first book, the chapters alternated between the point of view of the two protagonists, Citra and Rowan, with the occasional snippet of other characters. However, in this new book, Shusterman toys with a range of different characters’ voices. You may, at first, think that this style would be messy and confusing. But it was pulled off wonderfully and kept me engaged and constantly questioning what would happen next. In many books, you don’t get to hear the thoughts of the antagonists and so it was very interesting to hear how these characters devised their plans while reading Thunderhead.

Thunderhead was riddled with terrifying twists and these not only left me uncomfortable but encouraged me to think about the evil potential that individuals and humanity have. When immortality is thrown into the context, I learned that there is a new part of the human psyche that’s exposed. The length that people could go in the name of greed and fear of death is both fascinating and terrifying. Shusterman expertly weaves dark humour with intensified stakes, building to an ending that throws the characters and their world into a horrifying unknown.

Neal Shusterman has blown me away once again. Thunderhead has outdone itself with class while encouraging me to think about our world and the meaning of life and death from a new, disturbing angle. The Arc of the Scythe series has made its way to my list of favourites and I look forward to getting my hands on the upcoming conclusion.

Reviewer: Emma Jackson

Walker Books


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