Categories
Dystopian Science Fiction Young Adult

Thunderhead (book thoughts) by Neal Shusterman

Happy Presidents Day! In the spirit of historical figures and Shusterman’s many nods to obscure ones from across world history, who is one of your favorite lesser-known historical figures?

The OpenlyBooked Book Club read Thunderhead earlier this month to continue the ARC OF A SCYTHE series. I think Scythe should have been left as a standalone – it had a Printz nod and wrapped up so nicely.  Thunderhead felt way too long and the new points of view weren’t very interesting to me, detracting from the overall reading experience.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Thunderhead
  • Author: Neal Shusterman
  • Series: Arc of a Scythe #2
  • Publisher & Release: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – Jan, 2018
  • Length: 512
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ it will be hit or miss with the sequel, but a good series for YA readers

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.

A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.

As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Will the Thunderhead intervene?

Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

Overall: this was a much longer book.  I liked the Scythe and Thunderhead history and world building.  Faraday and Curie brought a lot to this second installment.  Tyger and … Uh … Grayson? Not so much. It was fun to get a better look at the Tonists too.  Thunderhead was the true star!

Although I do not require devotion, am I not deserving of it?

The last 25% picked up in pace again and  finished on a truly dramatic and apocalyptic note.  I appreciate Shusterman’s willingness to be brutal.  Some parts were truly brutal too with more political scheming, injustice, and murder overall.

If we were judged by the things we most regret, no human being would be worthy to sweep the floor

❤❤My favorite part was the Thunderhead’s little chapter segues, when it was meditating on divinity and responsibility.  It reminded me of Aidan having to make some tough choices in Illuminae.  It was also interesting to see all the random scythe names that Schusterman was plucking from world history, it would be a fun classroom activity to have kids pick a name and research the person❤❤

How ironic, then, and how poetic, that humankind may have created the Creator out of want for one. Man creates God, who then creates man. Is that not the perfect circle of life? But then, if that turns out to be the case, who is created in whose image

I liked the character arcs of Citra/Anastasia and Rowan, i just don’t think they have one bit of chemistry. Not. One. Ounce. I lost a chunk of respect for the way he ended the book with the two characters. Overall he could have done much worse and it was a closed door scene – but still – like just why.   Authors need to stop throwing in what they think people ‘expect’ in books.

That’s exactly what the scythedom is: high school with murder.

I’m not too keen on reading The Toll, after this one, but I probably will finish the trilogy.  I would 100% still tell teens to read Thunderhead. There’s a lot of good food for thought there and compared to a lot of modern YA, these are excellent books.  I am probably just bitter that the author caved to what he thinks people want to read but I  respect Thunderhead‘s many great qualities

Categories
Dystopian Science Fiction Young Adult

Scythe (or themes for teens) by Neal Shusterman

I finally got the time and chance to read another book with the OpenlyBooked Book Club, and really enjoyed Scythe!

I liked it well enough as an adult and I also think it’s a fantastic book for teen readers.  There are lots of good themes, ideas, and what-ifs for discussion fodder and there’s a discussion and classroom guide in the back of my edition! Honestly I think I’d have gotten more out of this as a teen than I did, say, trying to understand Brave New World at the time so that’s something teachers are hopefully looking at.

In one sentence: one of the more unique and interesting YA books I’ve ever read

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Scythe
  • Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
  • Author: Neal Shusterman
  • Publisher & Release: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – November  2016
  • Length: 448 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⚡ for anyone interested

Here’s the synopsis via Amazon:

I don’t read many utopian sci-fi books and was definitely happy with this one.  What the heck would the consequences be when humans are immortal, there’s no government anymore, everyone is provided for, and life is one big neverending run of mediocrity?

There are so many great themes and ideas for teens to consider in these books. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a world like this? Is the Thunderhead better than individual governments? How do you feel about turning back the clock?

Is cultivated random death better than the old method of natural selection? My favorite question is, without suffering, how does one’s life and the world at large change?

I tried hard to poke holes in the world building as well and it seemed extremely solid.  There were lots of sci-fi and utopian ideas but not enough technology and science to bog down the book.  It was more there in ideology. I was thinking quite a.bit about cultivated random death vs old-school random death, is one or the other really better? The whole idea of disease, accidents, crime, government being rendered obsolete was fascinating.

I think this is a unique plot with a thoughtful look at humanity.  The scythes hold a LOT of power, and therefore of course is the source of corruption as well.  Seeing how different scythes operate, the good and bad, new vs old, and how they essentially preserve the age of mortality was interesting to me.

The characters all had their unique aspects too.  It’s rare that a book is equally plot and character driven.  Rowan and Citra didn’t want to be scythes, therefore they are perfect candidates – but how do you ease people into taking life? How do they react to this? I liked their different strengths and weaknesses, and how each of their famous Scythe mentors had different approaches to the gleaning

My only negative thought was how the two teens ended up romantically inclined towards each other. I get that the author thinks people “expect” “romance” but the characters had zero, absolutely NO chemistry, and nothing except proximity.  This should have been a friendship, as proximity romances are stupid and the characters only had one brief physical encounter.  I honestly don’t think that teens want or expect romance in every book and it was so obviously forced into Scythe.  1/2 star docked for the author being silly

Overall: I thoroughly recommend this one and consider it a wonderfully appropriate teen read too.  Confirmed by the fact that it won a Printz honor, it definitely reads as a standalone but I’ll be reading book 2 asap.  This could easily be read and discussed in schools.  The language was clean, the worst anyone did was kiss, once, and while there was violence and death it was usually well compensated.

Likely one of my lifetime top 10 YA reads but I would have to think out a list to confirm