Thursday, May 10, 2018

Scythe Sequel
Thunderhead, Neal Shusterman
Scythe was a smashing opener for this series.  When I finished it, I thrust copies into the hands of members of my book club because I needed to talk about it.  I wasn't sure I'd ever want to read it a second time (it was brutal!), but discuss. I. must.

I am thrilled to report: Thunderhead consolidates all of the series' strengths and minimises the elements that kept Scythe off my re-read list;
  • For those lamenting this statement, rest assured -- book two matches book one in brutality, but with less gratuity and shock value.  The body count is comparable, but overall, I found the sequel much more palatable.
  • Like Scythe, Thunderhead is well plotted and paced.  Even the chapter interludes are interesting.  All of the narrative voices are engaging and worthy (and there are new characters you'll spend time with).
  • Though the scythedom receives further treatment, the sequel zooms out to capture a bigger political, geographical and social picture.  I relished further exploration of Shusterman's latest utopia.
  • It helps that the villain is grade A. 
  • The li'l nugget-allusions are amusing and only occasionally distracting.  The Patron Historic names, for example, get a little silly for a bit there.  Most of the easter eggs are cute and garnered a smile from me. Quoting a popular children's book in a distant future for example? Cute.
  • This world and story continue to be cinematically appealing.  I'm watching the adaptation's production status with interest.
  • The covers deserve their own bullet for their brilliance.  Boom.
  • Advisory Notes: Sex is referenced in multiple relationships but not graphically described.  Some swearing, not a lot, and not of the worst kind.  In case you missed it: it's violent and morally dubious things are goin' on throughout. 
Overall: If you enjoyed Scythe, you will not at all be disappointed by Thunderhead.  If you read my review of Scythe and thought twice about diving in -- worried you might not have the stomach for the series -- well, it may not be such a sickening ride the whole way.  When weighed alongside other YA trilogies I've reviewed in recent years, this stands as a powerhouse, and one I'm likely to remember and recommend (to the right readers) for years to come.  If you're still circling your decision on this, if I had to, I'd say this is how Brave New World might have turned out had it been penned by Suzanne Collins.  Does that help you decide?  It's a dystopian with the tagline "Thou Shalt Kill" -- let your gut be your guide. 

Review copy received from Walker.
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