Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman


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CW‘s: Death, Murder, Violence


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?

Trenn Kopie

Why I loved Thunderhead

“To choose those who live and those who die would leave me both feared and adored, like emperor-gods of old. No, I decided. Let humankind be the saviors and the silencers. Let them be the heroes. Let them be the monsters.”

Citra and Rowan my loves 💗 They have truly grown so much since the beginning of Scythe and in very different directions each, that is still very fascinating and interesting for me to follow. I love the contrast between how their lives when and I will always love both of them with all my heart: getting to see them grow up in a way makes me feel like a proud mother hen to be honest. And yes, I still ship them very hard and while I didn’t like how little we saw them interact, I kind of always liked how subtle their relationship was! (I feel like I’m one of the few people who has always loved their romance)

Citra’s path as Scythe Anastasia was very interesting, you really see how much she has grown and what a compassionate, good Scythe she has become, I’m very proud and impressed with how she handles the burden of killing. However, she also faces trials and gets reprimanded for her approach to gleaning (giving them a month advance to get things settled). She’s very grown up now, more confident and yet still vulnerable, something I really liked seeing. We watch her trying to figure out how to combine Citra and Scythe Anastasia within her, as it feels like they are two very different people. I just love her so much.

Rowan’s path as Scythe Lucifer is more about vengeance and trying to eliminate all unhonorable Scythes, but in the end the question arises if he should be taking this path at all, as for every Scythe he gleans, more will take their place and swear allegiance to the new order. He’s also hunted as the new scapegoat as the Scythedom sees him as a plague and an enemy to all Scythes. We still see what an impact Goddard has left on him and how he kills, but I loved that he was trying to take a new path and trying to do good, even though it was about killing. I always love morally grey characters and Rowan definitely fell under that category!

Of course we see the other old characters as well 💗 Scythe Curie is now Citra’s closest friend and a bit of mother figure as well as mentor, all wrapped up in one. Therefore, we see a lot of their deep friendship, which was very great – it’s just always good to see two women working together, especially as they have a significant age gap. I love seeing a more unusual friendship dynamic and that was really well done here! Scythe Faraday still has a soft spot in my heart as well, he is truly fascinating and kind without letting himself get pushed around. He has that ‘calm, but don’t mess with me’ attitude that I have always found so fascinating. Here, he is searching for something and I’m very much convinced that he will save us all one day!

Trenn Kopie

We also got more insight in the Thunderhead 💗 (it’s literaly the title, so that was a given) This time we get little chapter introductions about the thoughts of the Thunderhead instead of the gleaning journals from last time! I liked getting to know the Thunderhead more and see how it came to be and what it all regulates. It certainly talks about its near omnipotence and its status a lot, especially the limitations it has without being able to assess the Scythedom. I never really trusted it though, as I’ve seen too many AI take power and decide over the fate of humanity (*cough* like AIDAN), so I will never truly trust the Thunderhead, especially in the end, because it’s a bit angry (if an AI can be angry that is).

There is so much more worldbuilding and the expansion was amazing 💗 We see so much more than in the first book and I was very interested in learning about all the different aspects to this future world that we now got to understand a bit better. E.g. we hear more about the Charter Regions (Texas respectively), that are very different from the rest of the world and have their own unique set of rules. Through the new character Greyson, we get insight inside the Unsavouries (the rebels of a system that is actually designed to control and eliminate all crime and violence) and then later the Tonist cult, which was super fascinating (I still cannot get over ‘the great fork’). I didn’t get attached to him like the old characters, but through him we got to see a lot of interesting facets of the world, that we had not seen before, as it was very focused on the Scythedom. Furthermore, we learn more about the workings of the Thunderhead like I mentioned e.g. how it can supplant minds and prevent mental illness. Then we see the island of Endura and how it looks like without help of the Thunderhead – as it’s the seat of the world Scythe council!

Trenn Kopie

“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 plot was so perfectly woven together and thrilling 💗 My anxiety was constantly rising, because things got intense after about 40%, my poor heart. I love how the author manages to connect everything, so what seemed random before (e.g. Tyger’s appearance and how much stress was on Greyson) made sense in the end and all contributed to the buildup!  The finale was INTENSE and my heart was beating so fast, that ending was really … something, like I’m super worried about the last book now! (also why doesn’t it have a release date other than 2019 yet?? Rude.)


Like WHAT?? I’m not sure how I felt about Goddard’s return, as kind of too many people came back from the dead by now, but he is supposed to be the Big Bad of the entire Series apparently. Killing the World Scythe Council and making sure no one knew Curie became High Blade was intense and now he’ll likely take over MidMerican Scythedom and be able to do anything without a big council above him. But more importantly, what will happen to Citra and Rowan??? They are deadish in this valet and will remain so until they are found. I’m a bit worried that will mean they’ll even be less in the third book :/ I hope someone finds them in the beginning of book 3, because I kind of don’t want it to be all about Greyson (The Toll – Tolliver … I mean come one). But he will become important after all, as the Thunderhead SNAPPED and has marked everyone unsavoury except him, meaning only Greyson can talk to it. I knew the Thunderhead had it in it, to get really pissed off.


The Thing about Greyson

I’m still not sure what to make of Greyson and how much page time he got. I found his insight into the whole story interesting and he made sense in the grand scheme of things, but I will always love Rowan and Citra more, who started the story. They were here too, but Greyson takes up as much page time and … I just didn’t care that much about him on a personal level. Yes he was needed for the plot and I kind of felt bad for him in the beginning, but there was nothing about his personality that really spoke to me like it happened with the old characters. I think he’ll get even more attention in the next book, but I really want more of the old characters instead of him, as I find them much more interesting. I don’t hate the poor boy, but my heart was already set on Citra and Rowan by now.


SERIES? Yes (Book 2 of 3)


RECOMMENDED FOR: well anyone who enjoyed Scythe certainly, definitely fans of the Illuminae Files (thrilling action, questionable AI …)

THREE FAVORITE THINGS: the perfectly woven plotline and epic finale, my loves Citra and Rowan, getting to know so much more of the world

Talk Kopie

Did you like Thunderhead? What is your favorite dystopian book?


8 thoughts on “Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

  1. Brilliant review!

    I love dystopic fiction! Books and movies alike. My fave of both is actually a classic- the book Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, and the movie it inspired, Soylent Green. Also, Logan’s Run, book and movie. And the Fahrenheit 451 inspired movie, Equalibrium.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, so November has been a bad reading month for me (DARN YOU SLUMPS) but I just picked this book up and I HAVE BEEN CURED. I love the writing and the world and the characters and AGGHHHH it’s all so good! I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one who love it 🙂 And Citra and Rowen are like, so great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg I’m so glad to hear that this book could get you out of your reading slump, that’s fantastic! 😊 The world and writing is just so fantastic and I’m always 100% hooked on the books in the Scythe Trilogy 😍 Citra and Rowan are my faves! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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