Book Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (spoiler-free)

I’m beyond shook after finishing Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman guys. A massive thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a review copy! All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.


Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

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?


33555224My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication Date: 1 Jun 2018
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction (Dystopia)
Australian RRP: $16.99

This review contains minor reviews for Scythe (the first book in the series). I highly recommend you read Scythe first before reading this review (I mean it’ll make more sense anyways).

I took me two nights of sleep to get my head around my clouds of emotions I’m so funny haha, and I am finally emotionally stable enough to dish out my spoiler-free review for Thunderhead on this freezing cloudy day. okay enough of the cloud puns.

Unlike most people, I picked up Scythe only two months back big mistake I know. And after reading Thunderhead, this series has become one of my top favourites! I am usually a bit skeptical about the second book of a series (and in dystopian in general) – but this sequel is one of the best one I’ve ever read and it does not disappoint in anyway.

Thunderhead dives further into the futuristic, dystopian world where the earth’s population control is executed by scythes who are professionals in the art of killing – but the term ‘glean’ is used in the book instead of ‘kill’ –  and all scythes operate above the law. In this sequel we hear more from the perfect ruler/ A.I, dubbed the Thunderhead, that has been constructed to be impartial, trustworthy, perfect and completely just – it basically oversees “everything” in the world that people live in. There are parts in the novel where it’s a bit of a slow burn, but I LOVE THE BURN who doesn’t love to be burn by a good book? because it helped build up the story and plot very nicely and it just kept going and going and WOAH. It just keeps you so on edge.

The prose is highly commendable. I adore many of the entries by the Thunderhead. That stuff is super deep and by ‘deep’ I mean it belongs to a totally different ‘plane’. Thunderhead can also FEEL things, and being able to incorporate emotions in an A.I. is so original and refreshing and I can’t help but love, and want to know more about it. Thunderhead has the ability to explore the human psyche with a  great emphasis on human flaws, and did I mention how bloody smart it is? It really is kinda perfect in its own way. And the Thunderhead entries helped me understand the plot more deeply by providing insightful explanations – how great is that?

NOW to the world-building!!!!! I love talking about world-building in sci-fi books because that’s one of the core elements that makes a good sci-fi. In Thunderhead, we were introduced to a new ‘sub-population’ know as the Unsavoury. I won’t say what they are here but it’s awesome to see how phenomenal and completed this world-building is. I love the way Shusterman weaves together various perspectives from different social groups and communities to allow a more diverse voice and support the natural unfolding of the story. And I applaud the fact that even in such an advanced world where even immortality has been achieved – religion still plays a role in society – that faith is constant. BRAVO TO THAT!!! Oh, and it’s always shockingly nice to see how things just ‘click’ at the end and you be like ‘WAIT, WHAT, OH MY GOSH, NO WAY!’

I LOVE CITRA AND ROWAN. FULL STOP. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH IT HURTS ME AND IT PAINS ME THAT I LOSE SLEEP OVERTHINKING ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THEM IN THE NEXT BOOK. The relationship between these two is beyond the word ‘complex’, and there isn’t much they could do except to roll with it. I live for their dynamic friendship – it’s so complicated and everything is so messed up and they can easily die on the spot but aNYwAyyy I was rooting for them page after page just so they can STAY ALIVE FOR THE CHAPTER you really can’t ask for much or expect anything else in dystopian novels. There are several new characters who are introduced in this instalment and one of them is named Grayson Tolliver, and he is that little confused cinnamon roll who got caught up with the whole scythe business and poor boy I just want to hug him and feed him fairy bread because I totally get him!!! I really like his character and I hope you do too! Ahhhhhhhh I am going stop writing this paragraph to avoid any spoilers from slipping.

Now more with the plot – I don’t even know where or how to begin. Shusterman is the mastermind with intricate plots. Thunderhead is so tensed and gripping that you won’t want to leave the book or the couch/bed/carpet/atoms after you’ve picked it up – that, my friend, is how brilliant the plot and writing was! The suspense between different perspectives nearly killed me, I found myself liking Citra and Rowan’s perspectives the most because they ARE after all, the protagonists, and my precious beans. There was so much kick-ass action, overwhelming personal and political drama, and I loved every single moment of it! Another great attribute to the Scythe novels in general are the spectrum of themes which are explored – free will, the whole deal with immortality/ conquering death/ amaaazing medical facilities that I want a personal tour of, political power, religious freedom, discrimination of all sorts, socio-economical issues, crime etc. The writing was vivid, philosophical, deeply compelling and really made me think into all the issues that are currently in the world.

I’m not even allowed to talk about the ending on here right?, so there’s that. BUT OH BOY MOST OF YOU WOULD NOT SEE IT COMING! I took me a few chapters to guess some stuff, but I picked it up much earlier than my friend who I buddied read Thunderhead with. BUT OH DANNNNNG THE LAST 10 CHAPTERS SHOOOOOOK ME ALRIGHT. Those who haven’t read it, you’re in for a big ride, so buckle it. Tight.

All in all, I absolutely loved Thunderhead. It hurts my brain to think of a fault because there really isn’t one that I can think of? It was a bit slow in a few parts, I’ll give it that, but I honestly can’t think of anything else! Complex plot lines, heroes you can’t help but adore and a mysterious A.I. who is super clever – what more can you ask for in a sci-fi book? This novel is truly a masterpiece and I cannot recommend the Scythe series enough! 5 out of 5 stars!


Wings out.

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© Bibliophilic Med Student 2018. All Rights Reserved. Please do not use without permission. All opinions are my own and you can find me on Instagram @bibliomeds and Twitter. You can also follow me on Goodreads.




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