Dystopia (Teen), Science Fiction (Teen), Series, YA Fiction

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – Arc of a Scythe #2

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You might recall that I recently read Scythe by Neal Shusterman. I had loved the premise of the novel and while it did have its flaws, I still enjoyed reading it. When I found out there was a sequel, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and I’m so happy that I was able to receive an ARC! Here is my review of Thunderhead, the sequel to Scythe and the 2nd book of this series:

After just narrowly escaping death, Rowan has gone rogue. He has taken it upon himself to cleanse the Scythedom through a trial by fire. In the year since Winter Conclave, Rowan has gone off-grid and has been striking out against corrupt scythes. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”. Citra – now Scythe Anastasia – is a junior scythe under Scythe Curie who also sees the extent of corruption within the Scythdom – but has her own way of dealing with it. Her style of gleaning is more compassionate – but her methods are questioned by everyone in the Scythedom. But when her life is threatened, it becomes clear that not everyone is willing to accept her into the fold. Will the Thunderhead finally intervene? Or will it watch as this perfect world unravels?

A note to Goodreads readers before I actually talk about my feelings on this novel: the synopsis that talks about Citra is not accurate. At no point does she go “deadish” in this novel in order to talk to the Thunderhead. I’ve included in my summary a more accurate portrayal of what occurs in this novel.

To me, it felt like this novel suffered from Second Book Syndrome. What is this syndrome? It’s basically when the second book doesn’t live up to the expectations of the first book in the series. It’s typically characterized by an increase in angst instead of action, a dragging in the plot, and the characters are pretty stagnant. All of those things happened in this book. I found the story to be tedious in length because not much happened. Scenes that could have been high impact didn’t deliver the punch and there was a lot of filler. I don’t really want to read about how Citra and Scythe Curie are wandering around, trying to figure out who is after them. I don’t care about all of these other characters you are introducing that I know will explain some twist in the story but don’t actually matter. There was just this lack of connection between me as the reader and the main characters in the story. Even though the author took the time to write from the perspectives of a bunch of characters, it still didn’t allow me to empathize with them. Just like in Scythe, the author included excerpts from journals of other Scythes … but more often, there were excerpts from the thoughts of the Thunderhead itself. I thought that was really interesting, and it was a nice touch because it allowed the reader to watch the Thunderhead transform emotionally. However, there could have been more done here. Some of the excerpts of the Thunderhead were overly redundant and could have been taken out. I think the reason that this novel suffered in my eyes is because the plot was just a rehashing of the time-old tale of new vs old clashing. There was nothing very new introduced in the novel and with a lack of growth on the part of the characters and a slow pacing, this novel really didn’t deliver the punch I wanted. The last 50 pages of this novel were definitely eventful, and as is the norm with Second Book Syndrome, the story ended on a cliffhanger, which now means I’m going to have to read the next book in the series. Despite all of the shortcomings, I still find myself invested in the concept of this series and interested in how the author plans on resolving the conflict in the story. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 3/5 stars.

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