Just last week I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. Thunderhead is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe series. I was super excited to dive into Thunderhead, but decided that, in the interest of getting the best experience with Thunderhead, I should reread Scythe. I’m really glad I made that decision. Listening to Scythe was a great way to spend my ride home from Yallfest and has made me SO excited for Thunderhead.
Here’s what you need to know about Scythe:
Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Here are my thoughts on the book:
Scythe is an amazing book. Neal Shusterman is a great writer. The pace, plot progression, and character development all felt effortless and organic. The premise of an immortal world creating a need for murder guarantees an interesting read.
The minimally developed romance was one of the few aspects of this book that I didn’t like, but even then I can’t necessarily complain about it. It’s a far-cry from a great romance, but I can’t exactly say it’s unrealistic. If you throw two attractive teenagers together, isolate them from everyone else their age and then explicitly forbid their romance- there are only so many reasonable outcomes. It also has very little bearing on what happens in the book, so again not a big complaint.
My only real complaint, is that there I have a few too many questions after reading. This is a series, so I understand there is going to be some degree of an open ending, and I’m okay with that. But to go through the entire first book with glaring questions about the Scythdom and Thunderhead, arguably the two biggest elements of the world, doesn’t sit as well with me. I’m willing to make some excuses in regards to the Thunderhead, it wasn’t as big of an an element in this book. Granted the next book is called Thunderhead, I will probably get my answers. But I have so many questions as to the very existence of the Scythdom that it did deter from the enjoyability of the book. Why defeat death only to force decent* people to become murderers? Why not have a lottery where people are selected at random to be denied medical treatment, thus ending their immortality without homocide? Why, of all the possible avenues, did someone decide to create a giant murder brigade? Don’t get me wrong, it makes for a good story; but when you don’t fully justify the premise of your books, it’s only fair that people have their grievances. I’m hoping this plot-hole will be addressed in Thunderhead.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Picking up Scythe in the time of unoriginal, poorly written dystopias can feel like a huge risk. For a while, I was so tired of reading “The next Hunger Games” on every book that I was ready to never read another dystopian novel again. But, dystopias are my favorite, and I am weak in the presence of a good cover, so I picked up Scythe. This is absolutely a departure from the recent wave of dystopian teen novels. I recommend Scythe to everyone, especially those of you who are desperate for a quality dystopian novel.
I gave 4/5 Stars to Scythe.
My thoughts on the Audiobook:
I listen to all audiobooks sped-up. I despise slow audiobooks. Usually I listen to everything on 1.5, but I was listening to this in the car with my mom, who decidedly hates fast audiobooks, so we ended up listening at 1.25. Surprisingly, that was perfect for me. I love love love the narrator, Greg Tremblay. He performed the full cast of characters, of all ages and genders and origins, flawlessly. He was just as great voicing a teenage boy as he was an eight year old girl. Sometimes, I can’t help but laugh at narrators attempts at accents or voices that are altered by age, but his were all flawless. I 100% recommend the audiobook.
I gave 5/5 Stars for Greg Tremblay’s performance.