“Death must exist for life to have meaning.”
Read in November 2019
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
After reading and adoring the hell out of Scythe, I immediately started Thunderhead and it was close to perfection. I always knew that I was going to read this series one day or another, but I’m honestly so happy and relieved that I waited until all the instalments were released because I couldn’t have born the cliffhangers with which the two first books ended. When Scythe’s ending was really hard to overcome, Thunderhead left me with a new kind of despair. All of it was due to the fact that I don’t know Neal Shusterman enough. Because when you know an author and you’ve read many series written by him/her, you can often see a pattern, signs that will help you anticipate and guess where the action is going. Well, since it wasn’t the case here, I went from surprises to surprises, from tears to chock, and I’m still not sure I’m okay with all this book made me feel.
This instalment starts shortly after where we left off at the end of Scythe and as its name indicates, it focuses on the all-knowing Thunderhead, an AI that is basically the ultimate cloud that rules the world. It is the protector of humanity, in charge of seeing everything, stopping fires before they even start, turning off lights when no-one is in the room so that no energy is wasted, finding jobs for everyone. Its only blind spot is Scythe’s business since it is able to see them and but is not allowed to interfere with them and their will. When it comes to them, the Thunderhead can only be a witness, even if, according to his calculations, their actions are leading humanity to its end.
“And the pain . . . the pain of my awareness is unbearable. Because my eyes do not close. Ever. And so all I can do is watch unblinkingly as my beloved humankind slowly weaves the rope it will use to hang itself.”
Rowan went rogue is now on the run, calling himself Scythe Lucifer. He is on the self-appointed mission to end all the corrupted Scythes who, in his opinion, do not kill fairly. As I explained in my previous review, each Scythe is allowed to kill whomever they want in the way they want as long as they are not targeting a minority. However, some of them stay pretty questionable, targeting minorities that are not officially listed as minorities, mass-murdering, or even liking to glean. In Rowan’s opinion, they are the cancer of the society and decides to go after them one after the other, kill them and then burn the bodies so that they couldn’t be revived. His name is spoken in whispers and many Scythes start to fear his arrival.
Citra, now called Scythe Anastasia was officially appointed as a junior Scythe. She is still working under Scythe Curie and she decides to glean with compassion. She has her own method, warning her victims one month before their death and to let them choose the way they will be gleaned. Her innovative method is frowned upon by the most conservative part of the Scythedom, since they are partisan of the ‘we keep doing things as we always did’ way. It reinforces the already complicated internal conflicts between two type of Scythes, those who want to find a way to make death more human and to create rules to avoid subjective gleaning lead by Scythe Curie, and the so-called “New Order” who want to have more liberties in their gleaning methods lead by Scythe Goddard (can I add that his voice in the audiobook version was UNBEARABLE?).
Simply put, humanity had a need to be bad. Not everyone, of course—but I calculated that 3 percent of the population could only find meaning in life through defiance. Even if there was no injustice in the world left to defy, they had an innate need to defy something. Anything.
In Thunderhead, we were introduced to a new set of characters, the main one being Greyson Tolliver, a regular boy who’s around the same age as Citra who was raised by the Thunderhead. Greyson gets tangled into our plot when he prevents Scythe Curie and Anastasia irrevocable death. He is then requested by the Thunderhead to go on an undercover mission among Unsavories to help it avoid the end of humanity. Even though Greyson grew on me somewhere in the last third of this book, his point of view kind of bored me for most of the two first thirds, creating pacing issues, and it’s probably why I would say that I liked Scythe a bit more than this book. Ultimately, I liked having a ‘human’ POV and it was really helpful to understand the Thunderhead better. However, the few last chapters were so amazing that I still had to give this book five full stars, because I can’t even.
It’s now time for my messy last thoughts. I want to start with this: SCYTHE CURIE IS A TRUE QUEEN. I didn’t know where else to say it and I absolutely needed to write it as some point. Can we talk about how The Thunderhead is reminding me of AIDAN in Illuminae? I love them both so much. I really liked how morality was handled once again in this book, how both Citra and Rowan were working toward a common goal, changing the Scythedom while using different means it was fascinating. I also enjoyed very much the politics in this book. I really appreciated that instead of the ‘journal entries’ we had some ‘thoughts’ from the Thunderhead, it really helped the growth of the worldbuilding. I have a slight complain though, it’s that for a futuristic novel, I find that all those characters lack diversity, especially in terms of sexuality. Now I am both in tears and relieved that I waited after the release of The Toll to start this trilogy otherwise I couldn’t have bear the wait, so I’ll start this book right now.
“Ours is a perfect world–but perfection does not linger in one place. It is a firefly, by its very nature elusive and unpredictable.”
Have you read or will you read this book?
What did you think about it?