A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As THUNDERHEAD opens, both Rowan and Citra are putting their lives on the line to control the corrupt "new order" of scythes dedicated solely to their own ambitions. Rowan has become a mysterious vigilante, swooping down on self-serving scythes and making sure they are permanently dead. Along with her mentor scythe, Marie, Citra challenges the scythes openly and legally, even while there are attempts on her life. Meanwhile, the omniscient Artificial Intelligence known as Thunderhead watches over everything, even though it's forbidden to act directly against the scythes and their followers.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Thunderhead tackles questions of philosophy. Do people have free will, or are their fates determined by a higher power?
What would it be like to have the power of life and death over someone?
Thunderhead includes a lot of violent scenes. Is it easier to take violence on the page than on TV or in movies? Is violence ever justified?
- Author: Neal Shusterman
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: January 9, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 514
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 13, 2020
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