Audiobook Review: Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman
Hi everyone and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. When I looked back to the date I listened to this audiobook I was amazed that it was seven months ago! I finished Thunderhead in December last year, which really goes to show that I need to get a wriggle on and catch up with my reviews!
If you are new to the series or want to check out my thoughts of the first book (audiobook), you can find my review of Scythe using this link. I remember writing this review at the same time as listening to Thunderhead as it served as a nice reminder of events before that made writing my review easier. As yet I haven’t started listening to The Toll, but I suspect I will be soon since it has been a while!
Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman
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?
You would expect that the lives of Citra and Rowan couldn’t be turned more on their head since being apprenticed to the Scythedom. Yet, that was just the beginning of a revolutionary shake-up not seen before in the world. Citra, a newly ordained Scythe, has the help of Scythe Curie to navigate the turbulent waters of unrest from the inside. Rowan, however, has gone rogue and taken matters into his own hands. Both have the same goal; to revolutionise the Scythedom be weeding out corruption and those that would abuse the power granted by their higher calling.
As a huge fan of dystopian fiction I enjoyed delving back into this series. The setting of the novel is interesting and the complex relationship between the Scythedom and the Thunderhead has a significant role. The Thunderhead, as an intelligent sentient supercomputer (for want of a description) observes the growing conflict between Scythes and can calculate the likely odds of the future. Strictly speaking, the Thunderhead is not permitted to talk to or assist Scythes in their duty. And yet, when Citra is deadish the Thunderhead exploits a loophole to communicate with her. For the Thunderhead to feel like it has to break its own rules, it doesn’t bode well…
I absolutely hate discussions about politics in real life, but I really enjoy the complexities of it in novels. Political divides are abundant in this second instalment of the series. The lines have been drawn for a large conflict. Although a dystopian novel, the ultimate subject matter rooted in this conflict is death. It’s something easy for us to understand has real meaning outside of the world created in the novels.
The ‘old guard’ Scythes believe that their duty is sacred. Their business must be conducted with the utmost respect and dignity to those chosen to die (for natural death has been conquered). Even those chosen are carefully selected based on historic death rates by age, ethnicity, manner of death etc. ‘New order’ Sycthes want to push the boundaries – be permitted to conduct their business en-masse, using a variety of weapons that aren’t designed to keep the business clean/painless etc. It’s brutality, and as a reader I found myself taking the side of the ‘old guard’ very quickly.
The characters are as large as life as in The Scythe, and with a few surprises and new faces the narrative of Thunderhead is still fresh. Some of my favourite parts of the book are the musings of the Thunderhead. As an all-seeing-all-knowing being, it’s a great way of getting a neutral perspective on events whilst also exploring the idea of a society run by what is basically a ridiculously smart (and scarily human-like) computer.
I can’t wait to see how events pan out in The Toll. The ending of Thunderhead is so unexpected and dramatic! It’s quite a cliffhanger, it has to be said. The events of Thunderhead far exceeded my expectations of what might happen, so all speculation for The Toll is thrown out of the window. I’ll just have to start listening to it to find out!