Thunderhead by Neil Shusterman

33555224 Thunderhead

Neil Shusterman

Goodreads

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Review (minimal spoilers):

The summary does not even begin to scratch the surface of all the things going on in this book. From what (I felt) was a fairly straightforward (but immensely enjoyable) plot in Scythe expanded into multiple overlapping storylines as well as new characters.

At a certain point in roughly the middle of the book I thought to myself, “Is this too much?” And then I decided that I didn’t care because the ride was too enjoyable. I was rewarded in the end by having all the storylines neatly wrap up and then abruptly be cut off by an amazing cliffhanger that has me desperate to see what comes next.

The main star of the show in this novel is Citra, or Scythe Anastasia. Her growth from novice overachiever in the first book to political savvy junior scythe in this adventure is seamless and wonderful to read. Rowan, I feel, takes a bit of a back seat. Or perhaps I was so thirsty for more of Rowan’s story after Scythe that nothing would satisfy me. The secondary star for me was definitely Greyson Tolliver whose storyline had me as interested as any of the main characters. While in the previous book, each chapter had some quotation from a scythe’s journal — notably Scythe Curie — in this novel we have insights from the Thunderhead itself which I feel adds so much to the worldbuilding of this novel and bookends all the chapters with just enough commentary to make you understand how the world and the Thunderhead thinks (which often syncs up with what you’re thinking).

And oh the worldbuilding. So much was added and shaped and honed. So much that I didn’t understand or was annoyed by now makes sense. The Tonists! The Tonists!

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The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell

18949650The Bone Clocks
David Mitchell
Goodreads

One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking…

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.

Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its spellbinding and memorable best.

Review

(Note: This is an older review pulled from my Goodreads.)

I finished this in a blurry haze (some of that blur came from tears, I’ll admit) and like every other David Mitchell book I’ve read, I’m completely unable to write a review.

The Bone Clocks doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights Cloud Atlas did for me — will any book? — but there’s some damn good character work here. The fantastical aspect is intriguing and unique, as far as I can tell. Though it took a while for the fantasy to be more than just bits and pieces in the first few sections, when we finally reach the actual meaty plot of the novel, we’ve traversed decades and touched different aspects of Holly Sykes’ life through her eyes and the eyes of others who knew her.

Each character section is incredibly compelling, with the sort of full immersion that Mitchell is a master of – Holly sounds completely different from Hugo and Crispin, etc. Crispin Hershey was probably my favorite of the character studies, considering just how much development he goes through. By the time his section ended, I was…angry, I’d say? So much going, and to have it just stop was frustrating.

That’s the mark of how easily it was to get into the heads of these characters – unfortunately, in the case of Hugo Lamb. Ugh. Uuuuggghhhh.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t super excited to see some familiar names from other Mitchell novels. It makes it feel like there’s some larger, interconnected universe at play, and I like thinking that all the characters I’ve loved from his other novels are still wandering around, having lives and interacting just slightly with other characters.

Anyway. I suppose that was something of a review. A mess, I’d say, but after reading hundreds of pages of David Mitchell, anything I write anywhere would seem a mess.

Here’s to another few years waiting for a Mitchell novel!

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

28954189 (1)
Scythe
Neal Shusterman
Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review:

No one in the whole world can die, except when they’re gleaned by a scythe. The human race has reached this kind of stagnate perfection, brought about by the cloud, the Internet evolving into an all-knowing, all-seeing force that controls the world to make it function perfectly.

(Honestly, this is greatly interesting to me, but only the surface gets scratched in the novel. I’m hoping for more when the next two come out.)

Citra and Rowan are thrust into an increasingly corrupt system of Scythedom, designed, in theory, to keep the human population in check. They are above the law and untouchable and therefore, of course, have plenty of evils lurking around in the shadows. The romance between the two is a bit pasteded on yay, but because of that it’s hugely background, which I liked. This is a great world-building story and definitely something that’ll interest me into the next two books.

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

32075662 (1)

Our Dark Duet
Victoria Schwab

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

Review:

The second in the series Monsters of Verity (sequel to This Savage Song), Our Dark Duet hits the ground running and never stops. The pace is much faster and the tone much more desperate than This Savage Song, making the whole experience a bit like a thrill ride.

While I really enjoyed all the characters for different reasons, I do have to pay some special attention to the character of Soro, who is genderqueer. It’s not often you find a genderqueer character in fiction, let alone young adult fiction, so this was a pleasant surprise. Soro’s a flute playing, monster killing, stone cold badass who is oftentimes the voice of reason in highly emotional situations. I would have loved an entire series about them and their adventures.

Get on that, Victoria Schwab.