Thunderhead - Review of the second chapter of the Scythe trilogy

Thunderhead - Review of the second chapter of the Scythe trilogy
Thunderhead is the second installment in the Sickle trilogy written by Neal Shusterman. Published in Italy by Mondadori, the novel is the sequel to Falce, a successful young adult story that has as its protagonists the sad reapers in action in a utopian society where disease and, thus, death have been eradicated. Only the scythes have the deterministic power to take life once and for all, randomly or studied according to a personal philosophy.

The eagerly awaited second chapter of the trilogy arrives in Italy and is already a success among fans of the series. The protagonists of the first, exciting, book are back, Rowan and Citra, two young scythe apprentices who, with their stories that intertwine and divide as in an eternal loop, will tell readers a more mature and introspective narrative. If Scythe served as an introduction to a plot that already promised great twists and adrenaline revelations, Thunderhead throws us into a world now dominated by chaos, where free will is a right regained by helpless humanity.

Thunderhead, between artificial domination and free will

In the novel Scythe we learned that to govern this new perfect world, where crime and death no longer exist, there is an artificial intelligence called Thunderhead. An omniscient eye that knows everything and everyone and that takes immediate action for every malevolent action performed. But, what is the only distinction? The Thunderhead cannot deal, in any way, with facts (and misdeeds) concerning the scythes. For this reason, the new self-proclaimed Master Lucifer (whose identity we will not reveal to avoid spoilers) is an executioner who acts in the night and who makes sickles, saturated with life and hungry for power, his most succulent prey.

In the first chapter of the trilogy we learned that part of the scythes began to act in a purely hedonistic way, taking pleasure in their work, that is, bringing death to people. This is considered, in an official way, absolutely deplorable, since the scythes must, by assumption, be above good and evil and act only out of pure duty, as established by their regulation.

The fact However, the fact that the Thunderhead cannot have a say in the actions of the scythes makes their organization saturated and subject to corruption of all kinds. In this regard, we recall that the governmental artificial intelligence, in this utopian dimension of reality created by Shusterman, in a short time, acquired a conscience and replaced all national governments since this was balanced and totally super partes, so right. to assume the burden and honor of ruling the entire planet Earth.

But, alongside the absolutely incorruptible government of the Thunderhead, two young anomalous scythes try to bring balance to the system where artificial intelligence does can operate. Master Lucifer is the executioner of the corrupt scythes, while Madame Anastasia, with her way of gleaning so full of pity and compassion, openly challenges the whole system of the Order based on pure impersonality. Both characters together with the new entry Greyson Tolliver, will try to change the system from the inside, with the good placito of the Thunderhead.

Here, the artificial intelligence that dominates everything becomes of fundamental importance because it marks the fate of all humanity and tells the readers about the events from an absolutely impersonal point of view, a bit like in an authorial eclipse, where the objectivity of the facts dominates.

A story in the balance between good and evil

Neal Shusterman's novel, aimed at a young audience, makes us reflect on the fine line between good and evil that is never well defined. The plot, as in the first volume of the trilogy, is complex and cannot be exhausted with a summary, since the food for thought is different and important. We can say, however, that history presents the reader with a considerable moral problem: when is it lawful to commit personal justice? If we know that doing justice by oneself in a world like ours is never lawful and plausible, in a utopian dimension (which in this second chapter becomes increasingly dystopian) everything is lawful in order to achieve a greater and more common good.

The Thunderhead, a great intelligence who rules the Earth, becomes the real protagonist in this novel, even if he cannot act directly and acts as an almost helpless spectator to the internal struggles in the Company of the Sickles. Madame Anastasia and Maestro Lucifer will be the two sides of the same coin, both will want to bring the Company of the Sickles to its natural order, the first through a silent struggle from the inside, in the second, instead, with brutal assassinations that will make the border between good and evil.

The novel is absolutely well constructed and invites the reader to continue reading. The writing is simple and smooth and this is absolutely a plus value to the work. Let's talk now about style because the plurality of points of view makes us think more about the boundary between good and evil that is the cornerstone of the whole story. If the Thunderhead is the good par excellence, it cannot act in matters concerning the scythes, for this reason, the work of Madame Anastasia and Master Lucifer becomes even more emblematic as it is the cornerstone of all history and a direct comparison between legality and justice. Not insignificant issues that lead the reader to reflect also on the most deplorable moral choices made by the protagonists of the story.


Thunderhead, second chapter of the Sickle Trilogy, is a book to do not lose. Reading is fluent and compelling and can interest not only a target of young adults. Even the most seasoned readers can take pleasure in reading a beautifully constructed story. The characters are characterized in an impeccable way and we struggle to find literary rivals in the literature of this genre and target.

The story then tells the eternal struggle between good and evil, seasoned with moral elements that do not never result in the "moralizing" indeed, often the most deplorable actions are those that make the reader think more, even the less accustomed to the science fiction genre. Also because, here science fiction is just a pretext to tell the story of a corrupt society where even the greatest of rulers, the Thunderhead, cannot have a say in the matter of legality. The work is also didactic and provides a great teaching, that of fighting, with all one's strength, for one's ideals and ideas, without losing the boundary between good and evil.

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