BOOK REVIEW: Neal Shusterman “Thunderhead”

thunderhead-9781442472457_hrTitle: Thunderhead

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

Never would I have thought I would be saying anything but good things about Thunderhead. You can read my positively glowing review of Scythe here to see just how much I adored the first book in this series, and then you’ll understand why I feel so betrayed.

I was so pumped for this book! In all honesty, the only reason I had left it unread for so long was because I knew I was going to love it, so I was saving it for a time when I knew I’d need a pick-me-up title. You know, something to pull me out of a slump or something.

Oh, no no. Thunderhead put me in a deep, deep slump, and quite possibly a depressive state. Neal Shusterman, what happened? What went wrong? How is it possible that the same human who wrote the amazing Scythe also penned this, quite frankly, ridiculous book?

Let’s start with the things I liked: going into more depth with unsavories was very interesting. Since this series is set in a future, Utopian world where they’ve all but eliminated crime, it was interesting to hear about how the few troublemakers are dealt with. There’s no true punishment, as unsavories aren’t sent to prison or anything. Still, their profiles are stamped with a big ole “U” so everyone knows that they’re unsavory. They have to meet regularly with a probation officer. They have to repay any damages or hospital bills they may have caused. But really, unsavories can continue living their lives and doing whatever they want.

There are also some interesting locations where only unsavories are allowed, and they are special places where the sole purpose is for individuals to let out their pent-up aggression. You want to beat someone up? Go to this special malt shop for unsavories where the staff is there to get yelled at and beat up if they get your order wrong. You feel like breaking something? There’s an unsavory “prison” where you’re meant to be put in a cell just so you can break out.

It was all very interesting and I could definitely almost see the appeal to being an unsavory: no real consequences for your actions since no one really dies and since any trouble you do cause never warrants any sort of punishment.

I also enjoyed reading about Scythe Anastasia, or Citra, and her new ways of gleaning and what she brought to the scythedom. Rowan is also always an interesting character to read.

But that’s it. Everything else was painful and ridiculous.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the newest character that was introduced, Greyson. Not enough was offered about him to make me care about him at all. He was raised by the Thunderhead and ends up saving Citra and Scythe Curie’s lives, but gets in trouble for it. This ends up completely ruining his life. It’s a really frustrating story arc to read.

Then you have Tyger, who is so completely stupid that I can’t even feel sorry for him. He’s just utterly ridiculous. “Yeah, I got hired for this shady but high-paying gig in Texas and this shady lady is going to train me to be a scythe! Nothing shady going on here!” When Rowan shows up and is obviously not at all okay with what’s going on, Tyger doesn’t sit back and reevaluate his super shady situation. No, Rowan’s just a wet blanket. It’s not like Rowan was an Scythe’s apprentice for any length of time. It’s not like he probably knows what he’s talking about.

It was so hard to ignore this childish subplot.

Then let’s talk about Texas. Apparently it’s a region all on it’s own. The Thunderhead has no cameras there and people in Texas all wear big hats, boots and belt buckles. Of course, they’re all gun-toting hicks who have bears as pets.

I’m sorry, but am I the only person who reads that and thinks that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read? Yes, let’s take every modern Texan stereotype and that’s probably exactly how everyone in Texas acts in the future. Come on, that’s not even how all of Texas is today. I’m literally just mind-blown that this all made it past publishers and editors and nobody else thought it was ridiculous? Because to be frank, that’s how I have to describe this book.

Confession time, I DNF’d this at 50% because I couldn’t handle it anymore. This review is to show why I despised it so much that I couldn’t finish it, even though I know it’s frowned upon. I just can’t begin to convey my disappointment in what a terrible book I thought this was. And I seem to be in the minority, because I read reviews and they’re all 4-5 star ratings. Did we read the same book? Did you somehow receive a copy that wasn’t ridiculous? If so, I’d like to borrow yours and then burn mine.

BOOK REVIEW: Neal Shusterman “Scythe”

28954189Title: Scythe

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Humans have attained complete immortality. They have defeated all manner of diseases and natural disasters through artificial intelligence called the Thunderhead. The Thunderhead knows all and sees all, and has done away with all political authority, crime, corruption. The Thunderhead is the governing body of the entire world. The only thing that the Thunderhead cannot interfere with is the Scythes.

Because humans can now essentially live forever, there has to be some way to manage the growing population. People still have to die. This is what the Scythes are for.

There’s no real rhyme of reason to how they glean. Some glean based on statistics, some glean based on the look in the person’s eyes, and some do it randomly. However they do it, the Scythes maintain a quota of 250 gleans per year; no more, no less.

Our two main characters, Rowan and Citra, get taken on as Scythe apprentices, and this is the story of their journey, change, and development through their now upside-down world.

My thoughts:

Holy crap. This book was absolutely amazing. I cannot say enough good things about Scythe and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it or talking about it since I finished. I immediately ordered Thunderhead (the next book) upon finishing this because I need to know what happens right now.

I’ve been hearing people talk about this for some time, but it took me too long to jump on the bandwagon. And I am ashamed. Scythe is not talked about enough. It is not hyped enough, not enough people are talking about it, and I am going to recommend this to everyone I meet for the next forever.

First of all, the world building in this is perfect. Absolutely spot on, so interesting and detailed and intricately done. I was so pleased reading this perfect, utopian world and was so intrigued by it. I could imagine it vividly, but not only that: it all makes sense. Everything just clicks.

The book poses so many difficult questions about mortality, right and wrong, the intents of the heart. I truly feel like it’s such an important book that people should be forced to read and evaluate. Analyze. People should be writing papers about Scythe, about what it means to them and how they interpret it. It makes you think about what you may do as a Scythe and how you may choose the people that you glean. It also makes you think about how you may live your life if you didn’t have to worry about death (aside from the possibility that you may be gleaned, which isn’t super probable to be frank).

The characters are relatable and the struggles they face make the reader feel for them. You can see the changes our apprentices undergo and why they turn out the way they do. You see the way they face corruption within the Scythedom and how the handle it. It’s all just so complex and amazing and really, I just want everyone in the entire world to read this book.

Scythe is fascinating, entertaining, engaging, relatable, thought-provoking, and a true gem. I cannot recommend this book enough. I’ve already been bothering my friends and family to read it so please, do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book.

 

Neal Shusterman: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads