Thunderhead is book two in the Arc of a Scythe series so if you haven’t yet read Scythe, this review may contain some spoilers for the first book. But I’ll try not to give away too much.
Thunderhead picks up a year after where the first novel in the series “Scythe” left off. So if you’re not familiar what a scythe does, or what scythes are or don’t know what the Thunderhead is, then you’ll probably want to read the first book before watching this review.
It’s worth first mentioning that there are no longer any governments in this society – all jurisdiction falls under what is called The Thunderhead (evolved from the Internet’s “Cloud”), which is the title of this Novel.
The Thunderhead is the ultimate jurisdiction and knows everything about everyone, and intervenes when necessary. As a society, nobody fears the Thunderhead; on the contrary, it is revered, almost like a god. The Thunderhead protects and provides for everyone. It has also developed its own consciousness as it evolved from cloud to thunderhead.
The one exception to the Thunderhead intervening in the lives of others is when it comes to Scythe business. It was agreed upon long ago that the Thunderhead would have absolutely no jurisdiction when it came to Scythes —- and it completely and always stays out of Scythe business.
But even though the Thunderhead cannot get involved in Scythe business without breaking its own rules, it watches — and it becomes increasingly apparent to the reader that it does not like what it sees.
One of the main characters in the book is Scythe Anastasia, who has recently caused quite a ruckus in the Scythdom because of her gleaning methods. You see, instead of just sticking someone with a knife without any warning (which is the custom of her mentor, The Grande Damme of Death), Scythe Anastasia gives her subjects one month to get their affairs in order. Not only that, she allows them to choose their own method of gleaning. Such actions are unheard of in the Scythedom, and the old guard was pretty up in arms about it. But as with all scythes, she has a right to glean as she sees fit. I felt that Scythe Anastasia really came into her own in this novel.
There’s another scythe who’s also attracting a lot of attention these days, and that’s Scythe Lucifer. Scythe Lucifer is a rogue scythe who is hunting down corrupt scythes as a vigilante and bringing permanent death — by burning — to those scythes who do not adhere to the original principals of compassion and high moral standards. The scythdom is outraged by his actions, and any attempts to put a stop to his killing of scythes has failed. It’s also worth mentioning that Scythe Lucifer is someone whom Scythe Anastasia knows and cares about very much.
I find it interesting that both of these scythes are trying to fix the same problems only they have extremely different methods of doing so, one from the inside, one from the outside.
Given that the Thunderhead has no jurisdiction over the Scythedom, it has done absolutely nothing to stop Scythe Lucifer from killing Scythes. Even though the Scythdom has asked the Thunderhead for intervention, the Thunderhead has refused, which the Scythdomn found strange and unsettling. But what’s the kicker is that Scythe Lucifer is not a scythe nor has he ever been ordained as one. So naturally, it doesn’t make sense to the scythdom why the Thunderhead hasn’t stepped in and put a stop to these murders.
Scythe Lucifer himself is confused and surprised by the Thunderhead’s apparent lack of intervention — he thought for sure the Thunderhead would put a stop to his antics right away. But when it didn’t, Scythe Lucifer figures “what the hell” and keeps right on doing what he’s doing. That is until he falls into the hands of an old enemy.
Scythe Lucifer isn’t the only one who is taken aback by this enemy’s appearance. In fact, this person’s resurfacing throws the Scythedom into utter chaos as a result of his scheming, conniving, deceit and malice, we can’t help but wonder whether the Thunderhead will eventually break its own rules and intervene. Let me just say that some really horrible things happen at the hands of this enemy.
There is also a new and multi-layered character named Greyson Tolliver who plays an important role between the scythdom and the Thunderhead, and I can’t wait to see how that role will evolve in the next book.
What I Liked
One aspect of this novel that I especially enjoyed was that we delve deeper into the Thunderhead’s brain and learn more about how the Thunderhead operates and thinks, through various “diary entries”, much like we saw with the Scythe Journals in the first book. I felt that the Thunderhead viewpoints were not only fun but also added an incredible element to the story.
Like the first book in the series, the world building is amazing, especially once the island comes into the scene. I definitely felt like I was there in person. For some reason, I felt that the world building was much expanded from the first book making it even more believable.
I also really liked the new character of Grayson Tolliver and his connection between both the Thunderhead and the Scythdom. It really worked for me when the Thunderhead sends Grayson to do things the Thunderhead can’t because of its own laws. I’m really curious to see what the Thunderhead has in store for him. And that’s all I’m going to say on that matter because as always, we never want to head into spoiler territory.
Like the first book, I adore the writing style, and the story-telling is first-rate. I love how the book deals with the questions of life and death in a utopian society. I also liked that it was practically impossible to predict how this book would end and it caught me totally off guard — in the best possible ways.
I also liked how the Thunderhead is an AI – basically a machine — but it displays an astonishing degree of human emotions, which, as the story progresses, we can’t help but wonder what would happen if the Thunderhead were to exhibit, shall we say, anger or outrage?
I have to admit that I was a bit leery going into this book as my experience has often been that the middle book in a series falls kind of flat. Not so here. This book was amazing.
Oh, one thing that gave me a chuckle was that one of the scythe’s name was Scythe Beyonce.
What I Disliked
I can’t say that I really disliked any of the plot devices, character development or story elements. Of course, I detested the villains so so much — but then again, we’re supposed to And yes I’m using the plural here as there is more than one villain in this tale,
Though I wasn’t too thrilled that it ended on a such a cliffhanger, I did feel that the momentous ending was very well done.
But other than that, I can’t pinpoint anything that I particularly disliked about this novel.
Fantastic multi-layered characters who experience immense growth from one novel to the next, perfect pacing and a serpentine plot that takes numerous unexpected turns, made this book a delight to read. It was a thought-provoking, fast-paced, gripping, and haunting tale with plenty of dramatic action and political intrigue — and I absolutely loved it. This book blew my mind.
Now all I will say is that there his a HUGE climax and twist of the nail-biting variety at the end of this book which left its hook deep within me and now I can’t wait for the next book. Even though I am not a fan of cliffhangers, I have no choice but to give this book 5 stars, and I loved it that much. Often, I feel robbed when slapped with a cliffhanger ending but not so with Thunderhead. This ending satisfied but yet wanting more.
I just hate that I have to wait until 2019 to see this story resolved in the final installment called “The Toll.”
This review was transcribed from a video review on my YouTube channel “Roger’s Reads”