A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Although primarily a sci-fi thriller, Thunderhead does address complex matters of philosophy, such as free will and ethics.
Knowing that our bodily existence is finite gives meaning to our lives. Kindness and empathy are more important than ambition and success.
Positive Role Models
Rowan and Citra represent two opposing philosophies toward scythedom. He has gone rogue and off the grid, a vigilante dedicated to snuffing out corruption. Citra works within the system to oppose the new order. Both are highly capable and compassionate, and they take their missions very seriously.
Violence & Scariness
Since it is the duty of the scythes to "glean" civilians, there are many scenes of violence in Thunderhead. Many minor characters are stabbed through the heart, but some unlucky individuals are beheaded, set aflame, showered by acid, and eaten by sharks.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two minor characters engage in mild innuendo.
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The incidence of swearing is fairly low, with one or two uses of "s--t" and "f--k," as well as a handful of "hell," "bitch," and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An older character drinks alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this follow-up to the 2017 Michael J. Printz Honor Book Scythe, by Neal Shusterman, is set in a future where most of the human population is immortal but a few are chosen to die at the hands of mysterious officials known as "scythes." There are many scenes of violence -- mass murder, beatings and torture, and intimate killings -- which may upset younger, more sensitive readers. Strong language is limited to one or two uses each of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," 'bitch," "hell," and "damn." Minor characters indulge in crude flirting.
Is It Any Good?
Second volumes of a thriller series often have a hard time maintaining momentum, but this sci-fi chiller delivers a finale that gleefully upends every expectation. There is plenty to like about Thunderhead from its opening chapters, as Citra plays deadly political games and Rowan gets his hands dirty by gleaning the most corrupt scythes. Author Neal Shusterman poses tantalizing questions about free will and determinism but also keeps the novel's pacing taut and the action revved high. Rowan and Citra continue to be highly appealing characters, and even the villains possess interesting quirks. The climax of this volume is splendidly crazy, full of reversals and twists that no one will see coming. Readers will be left perfectly set up for the third volume, which may take the saga into space.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.