This is it, the Apocalypse – a review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

I’m scared of the future of humanity after reading this book. That’s how you know I’m hooked.

I don’t think I ever read a dystopian that felt so real before. Quite often dystopia is based around a futuristic society with a rule or law that we consider baffling, that is until we learn how the society got to be in such a state. And my god, does the future in the Arc of a Scythe series feel so real! The hype was definitely met from when I finished the first book in the trilogy. Spoilers for that book are ahead.

Corruption is evident within the Scythedom, the body of trained killers who are the only people possible of being able to kill humans in the near future of earth. Two people are seeking to rid it out – Citra, more commonly known as Scythe Anastasia, and Rowan, her ally who fell short of receiving the title of a Scythe. While Rowan seeks to kill the most corrupt in the Scythedom with the skills learnt in his apprenticeship, Citra is using her popularity and political sway to convince people to remain moral in their gleanings.

In the first book, Scythe, we learnt of the trials of those going into the Scythedom and what it means to hold such a responsibility. From there, the world was expanded greatly in Thunderhead. We learn about the politics and activities amongst Scythes, and much more outside of that society and how the world is connected through various relationships with the A.I. entity, the Thunderhead. What I appreciated about this world building was how is was shown through how it was orchestrated just as much as what consequences this society made. I went very deep into so many individual aspects of this society and I relished in how easy it was to digest. It was a perfect expansion from learning of the Scythedom to the rest of society.

The plot was incredibly strong here. Everything connected very well and left me on the edge of my seat constantly. I can say that this plot was definitely unpredictable – a rare occurrence if I am to be honest. I’m certain after every five or so chapters my reaction was “Wait, what?” in a good sense. That’s how you know you got a good book, when the “Wait, what?”s are positive and leave you excited. I never felt confused following this story along. It had a perfect balance of flow, predictability and shock – a balance that is hard to leverage to the degree that Shusterman did.

Again, we have strong characters leading us through the story – with extra characters to follow along with. You could understand the mindset for each of them so quickly, even those we looked into the minds of for just one chapter. However, this also becomes a weakness. There were characters that I wanted to learn more about – namely Citra and Rowan – but not enough chapters highlighted or developed them enough. In hindsight I can see why we read those particular perspectives, but the sheer number of them while reading it was at times off putting. With this being a series about Citra and Rowan, there wasn’t enough chapters or scenes from their perspective to satisfy me completely.

I’m not entirely mad though, not with how emphasised the conclusion of the novel was pivotal to them. Soon, I shall be finishing what is undoubtedly a fantastic series. I know Shusterman isn’t going to let me down.

Thunderhead gets a score of 4.5/5.

Yours in writing


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