"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Though retired I am still making a stab at identifying the best YA literature of the year in an attempt to sniff out the next Printz Award winner. In years past as a high school librarian I would spend all summer between terms reading every YA book I could manage in my two months off work. The task got too big, so I started limiting my selections to only books that had earned at least three starred professional reviews. Some years even that task was gargantuan with over 50 to 60 titles in that category. This year, in an attempt to cut myself some slack, I decided to limit my selection to books which have earned four or more starred reviews, with some exceptions.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman has earned four professional starred reviews so it made it onto my list. I probably would have read it anyway, since it is the sequel to the very popular Scythe, which won a Printz Honor last year. Here is what those reviews had to say about Thunderhead:
"Relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls." (Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW)
"Interweaving heady questions of morality, responsibility, loyalty, and power, Shusterman builds to a devastatingly intense conclusion that sends the characters and larger world into terrifying new territory." (Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW)
"Shusterman wields his magic once again in this continuation... even better than the first book." (School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW)
"Shusterman widens the already impressive scope of his neat-future utopia while also keeping a deft finger on the pulse of our own turbulent times. Exceptionally clear-eyed and brutal in its execution." (Booklist, STARRED REVIEW)
Thunderhead picks up where Scythe leaves off. Rowan has gone rouge and is killing evil scythes under a pseudonym--- Scythe Lucifer. Citra is now a Junior Scythe who is making a name for herself in the Scythedom for the humane way that she carries out her gleanings. Older more experienced scythes are concerned about both of them, especially Rowan. Readers also meet the Thunderhead, or the artificial intelligence which controls everything in the world except the scythedom. His thoughts are collected between chapters in journal-type entries. The Thunderhead interacts with a new character, Greyson Tolliver, who agrees to do some undercover work for the all-knowing being. Though not exactly a comic relief, Tollison does provide relief from the story which centers around how to glean (kill) people. As the reviewer for Publisher's Weekly says, the story interweaves all kinds of moral and ethical questions about power and about what makes us human. The book ends with a plot twist no one sees coming and will lead readers to line up for the third installment of the trilogy as soon as it is off the presses.

Unfortunately for me, I was forced to read the book in two distinct time periods as my library loan came to an end before I was finished. I had to return the book having read only half of it and had to get back in the queue for another turn. It took several months before the book was available again. I wouldn't recommend this as a way to read any book but especially not one which is so action packed with so many plot twists and turns. My initial thought was this book suffered from middle-book-in-a-trilogy like Two Towers, or the movie The Empire Strikes Back. Here the story ends with good guys suffering and evil guys getting away with their deeds. That's no good so ultimately that will cause readers to wait with baited breath for the third book. I will be among those waiting anxiously.

Since this book was a long one, at 504 pages, I can use it as part of my reading challenge to read big books during the summer, hosted by Sue at Book by Book.

Past Due Book Reviews

6 / 16 books. 37% done!


  1. Congratulations on finishing another Big Book, Anne! I MUST read this series! Still haven;t read the first one, but I have loved everything else Neal Schusterman has written - he is one of my favorite authors.


    2018 Big Book Summer Challenge

  2. It doesn't sound like my type of book, especially due to its length!

    1. Yes. It is a second book in a series, too. Unless you wanted to go back and read Scythe, I wouldn't recommend this one.

  3. I really liked reading Scythe so this one is definitely on my to read list. I love that you try to sniff out the Printz Award each year!


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