Again I will say it, Neal Shusterman (NS) is the Sci-Fi King of What If….
He takes a thought like hey we have a cloud now and we are putting more and more stuff in it what if years and years down the road we have an AI version that is a mash up of The Cloud/Google/Facebook/Amazon and it had a social conscience and was put in charge of EVERYTHING. How would the world change?
*** How could I not love the very beings who gave me life? Even if they don’t all agree that I am, indeed, alive. I am the sum of all their knowledge, all their history, all their ambitions and dreams. These glorious things have coalesced—ignited—into a cloud too immense for them to ever truly comprehend. But they don’t need to. They have me to ponder my own vastness, ***
While Scythe focused on the training of two Scythes and so the beginning and end of chapter excerpts where from Scythes Journals in Thunderhead they are all the Thunderheads thoughts. It is really a great way to give the reader some outside information from the character PoVs and infodump without it ever seeming like an infodump. I loved learning more about the Thunderhead and realizing that maybe it is not as ambivalent as once thought since it seems to have some favorite humans out there.
Rowan and Citra are both trying to change the Scythedom after the events at the end of Scythe. Citra is working from inside the system trying to make killing the populace a thought about affair with great respect. Rowan has to work from outside the system since he is being hunted, but he is also the hunter and is killing Scythes who are using their position for power, genocide or something else unsavory. They are so perfect for each other but at the same time they are torn apart by circumstance.
*** “We weren’t close,” Citra insisted. “We weren’t anything.” And that hurt to admit more than her parents could possibly know. How could she and Rowan have any kind of relationship when they were forced to be lethal adversaries? Even now, when he was hunted and she was yoked with the heavy responsibility of scythehood, how could there be anything between them but a dark well of longing? ***
So you know I totally ship them! I wish they got more page time together in this book but due to the roles they are playing there wasn’t a lot.
New to the story is Greyson. He is a kid with absentee parents that was raised by the Thunderhead. All emotions that he should feel towards his family he feels for the Thunderhead, it was the one constant in his life that was always there for him and he would do anything to help the Thunderhead or be closer to it. This includes an undercover mission that the Thunderhead will not be able to give him any direct direction on. I liked the addition of Greyson to the cast. Through him we were able to see how some of the people who like to rebel against society lived.
*** 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. ***
This was a great bridge book to the Trilogy. Now you’re probably saying, “But Robin I thought this was a dualogy.” Yeah me too, but then I got to the end and thought really, that is where this story ends. But what about Faraday and his Quest? What about the thing the Thunderhead did at the end? What about Rowan and Citra and their fate??? What about the bad guy???? Well guess what there will be answers to all of those questions and more in Arc of the Scythe #3 that I had no idea there would even be but color me happy cuz more books in this world.
This is Neal Shusterman so expect some moments that just rip your heart out. If you read Unwind you know the kind of shocking moments I’m talking about. There are some really good twists and the world building was excellent opening up more information about the Scythes and the politics within the Scythedom. The Thunderhead is a fantastic character as well. It has evolved from what it was originally supposed to be and I loved getting a sense of the internal struggle it was having since clearly it is more attached to a few in the general populace and being unable to intervene to help them is having more of an affect on it than it should.
*** 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.
—The Thunderhead ***
Scythe was in my top 10 reads of 2017 and this was a great follow-up to that. While I was slightly disappointed that this was not the end of the story since I was planning on a dualogy and knowing all of the things after this book I’m also really excited that there will be a final book in this series. I can’t wait to see what else will happen to all of our heroes and it will be interesting to see what kind a punishment the bad guy/guys will finally get for all of his/their crimes which are many.