Thunderhead ~ Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe #2)


Okay, so similar to Scythe, I don't really know what to think about this. So here's what improved, I guess:

The worldbuilding got WAY better. Basically everything that should have been established in the first book but wasn't was explained (and sometimes even introduced) in this one. A million times better.

I liked the Thunderhead Thoughts™ for the most part, but they did tend to seem unnecessary a lot of the time, and I would have liked a bit more consistency.

The plot definitely improved, and was generally more exciting throughout, though it slumped hardcore in the middle, and had some more issues I'll discuss in the cons section. The climax was fantastic, though! I thoroughly enjoyed it! Very intense and very gripping.

Greyson, a new addition, was a great character who I generally enjoyed.

And here's the issues:

New headcanon: Everyone is actually a bot. Or a terrible actor in a badly written play. This is the only way I will accept just how wooden all the duologue is. And the unnecessary explanations. And the exclamation marks. And the general awkwardness where there's supposed to be romance.

There were way too many plotlines. Basically all 7 or so perspective characters had their own plots that interweaved and diverged, and I constantly completely forgot certain plots until they were suddenly mentioned again. They did all conclude fairly well though, so I'll give it that.

There is a big ~shocking~ plot twist that is literally the dumbest, most ridiculous thing I've ever read in my entire life, and I read a book that legitimately had an evil twin brother storyline, so... I actually snorted when I read this plot twist. It almost made the book so bad it's good.

The characters were not necessarily more unlikable (except for Rowan, who became extremely bland), but if they all died in a devastating flood, I literally wouldn't feel anything at all.

The obvious 2016 USA presidential election parallels were obvious.

Okay. Well, let's discuss the biggest issue I had with this book. The Tonists. Aka, Neal Shusterman's sad attempt at collectively undermining and ridiculing religion and spirituality. Basically, the short version is this: anthropologically speaking, it literally makes no sense. I can believe that a Tonist cult (because it's really more a cult than a regular religion, but that's mostly just semantics) could exist, but not that it would be the ONLY religion left. Spirituality has little to do with mortality. It's way more complicated than that. There's a great deal of evidence in this book and its world that the people lack purpose and belonging, and that is one of the greatest motivators of spirituality. To have a purpose in life. To belong to something bigger than yourself. And yet, even when he tries to incorporate this into the Tonists, he undermines it all by implying that most if not all Tonists are all either lying or idiotic or both. And that is offensive. And just plain incorrect. They do play into the plot in a way that I appreciated, but I cannot forget about the disgusting way Shusterman featured religion in his world.

So, yeah. It's good enough that I might just read the next one. Only because of the very (and I mean VERY) ending. Consider me intrigued. Or just a little less bored tbh.

Buy the book here: