Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction
My Rating: 4 stars
“I am, by definition, pure justice, pure loyalty.
This world is a flower I hold in my palm.
I would end my own existence rather than crush it.”
As the title suggests, this book focuses a lot more on the Thunderhead- the all knowing technology that replaced government and that takes care of keeping everything running smoothly. Everything except matters of the Scythedom, that is. The Thunderhead has done amazing things for humanity, from bringing back extinct species to making itself available as a trusted confidant, and there are even some people that view the Thunderhead as their closest friend. The fact that the Thunderhead has this much power is definitely unnerving, and we get to see the reaches of its control and influence as the series progresses.
“Were I to begin doling out death, I would be the very monster that mortal man feared artificial intelligence would become. To choose those who live and those who die would leave me both feared and adored, like emperor-gods of old. No, I decided. Let humankind be the saviors and the silencers. Let them be the heroes. Let them be the monsters. And so, I have no one but myself to blame when the scythedom befouls the things I have worked for.”
As well as learning more about the Thunderhead, we get to see more of Rowan’s friend Tyger, and the character Greyson has a large part of the story dedicated to what he’s up to. While I still couldn’t really connect to any of these characters, I did appreciate Greyson’s role and the glimpses it afforded us into other parts of society outside of the Scythedom. We were able to learn much more about the inner workings of this futuristic world and what things were capable of being achieved. Some of these explanations could run long, but overall I these insights widened the scope of the world and added some interesting concepts.
At times I struggled with the length of the book, especially because there overall plot was clear but there wasn’t much of a sense of urgency. Yes, the main drive of the characters is to thwart an assassination attempt and to root out the evil in the Scythedom, but most of the events a long the way occured slowly. Just as they did in the previous installment, the major events were mostly predictable because they were heavily hinted at and foreshadowed, and that ruined a lot of the surprise. I also didn’t like that we were led to believe the Thunderhead couldn’t break any rules, and then it proceeds to bend and change them. Granted, the circumstances were extenuating, but I was getting used to the Thunderhead being an observer that wasn’t allowed to intervene. I’m sure we’ll see in the next book how much actually changed and what limits the Thunderhead actually breaks.
“Yet am I not quantifiably more benevolent than the various versions of God? I have never brought about a flood, or destroyed entire cities as punishment for their iniquity. I have never sent armies to conquer in my name. In fact, I have never killed, or even harmed a single human being. Therefore, although I do not require devotion, am I not deserving of it?”
The pace picked up quite a bit towards the end of the novel, and the place where the story left off was every bit a cliffhanger as it was open to all number of possibilities. There’s no way to predict where the next book will start, and many of the plotlines have been left open ended. I have to say that I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I thought I would be, but that I’m still enjoying this series overall, so I will continue on to the last book in order to have closure and find out where everything finally ends up. I’m hoping to finally warm up to the characters, and can’t wait to see where things will go from here.