March 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman | SLJ Review

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redstarSHUSTERMAN, Neal. Thunderhead. 512p. (Arc of a Scythe: Bk. 2). S. & S. Jan. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442472457. POP

Gr 9 Up –A year has passed since the events of Scythe and Scythe Anastasia, once known as Citra Terranova, lives with her mentor, Scythe Marie Curie, and performs her gleanings in relative peace despite causing a rift in the Scythedom by giving her subjects a month to choose how they want to be gleaned, aka killed. Anastasia argues that it is more humane this way which earns her the favor of the “old world” scythes, those who feel they perform their job with dignity and humility rather than with joy and pride, like the “new world” scythes. Still, she cannot escape the tidbits of news surrounding her fellow apprentice Rowan Damisch, who now goes by the name Scythe Lucifer. He is hunting down corrupt scythes as a vigilante who deals death to those whom he feels besmirch the title. Ruling over this world is the Thunderhead, an omniscient artificial intelligence. However, it has no jurisdiction over the Scythedom and therefore has done nothing to stop Rowan. When an old enemy resurfaces, throwing the Scythedom into chaos, and Rowan unable to stem the flow of corruption on his own, the world begins to wonder if the Thunderhead will break its own laws and intervene. Shusterman wields his magic once again in this continuation. The exploration of how the Thunderhead operates and thinks, told through “diary entries,” gives the story an extra dimension: how would an all-knowing, all-powerful AI think, and how would it process a flawed humanity? The climax and twist ending will leave fans of the series begging for the next installment. VERDICT A rare sequel that is even better than the first book.–Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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