Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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5stars

I know all that is possible to know, and it’s increasingly unbearable.
Because I know next to nothing.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of Scythe #2

Number of pages: 504 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: It’s intriguing and it keeps you glued to the pages.
Bad things about this book: It’s not the last so we keep on suffering.
Do I recommend it? Yes, this series is becoming one of my favourites.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I knew it was going to be great but, did I know it was going to make my heart beat so fast because of anxiety? No. No, I didn’t. My poor heart is still beating like crazy and my brain is trying to come up with a lot of explanations and ways this story is going to end. So far I do not like any of the theories it has come up with. Please, let it be all flowers (artificially grown) and rainbows (created by the Thunderhead, of course). Nonetheless I loved it so much I will not stop recommending this series to everyone who will pay attention!

Each time I witness a cruel act by a corrupt scythe, I seed the clouds somewhere in the world, and bring a lamentation of rain. Because rain is the closest thing I have to tears.

Scythe ended with Citra becoming Scythe Anastasia and Rowan going rogue with the intention of ending all the corrupted scythes. Thunderhead starts with Rowan, as self-appointed Scythe Lucifer, punishing one of those scythes. Little did I know that, from that day on, things were going to get much more complicated than what my little brain could imagine. Anastasia and Marie are in danger; there’s a new character so important to the world that the Thunderhead makes complicated decisions to put him in the line of action; and Rowan finds himself in a weird and frustrating position. What is the fate of scythedom, and of the world, is something humans cannot predict, and maybe neither can the Thunderhead.

This book was one WTH after the other. Things that were already complicated seemed to get more so in just a few pages. I wanted to proceed but was afraid of reading and finding out I was not going to like what was written. I am heartbroken and that’s a fact, and now I’m curious to see how all the things that have started a chain of reaction will unravel in the third and last book. There’s just so much that can still go wrong and so much that maybe can put a stop to what has been angering the omnipresent Thunderhead. Humans just can’t behave and it’s infuriating.

How frustrating it is to have so much power, yet be so impotent to wield it when it counts.

It has come with no surprise whatsoever that the Thunderhead is, in the end, my favorite character. I don’t really know why I always find myself on the side of the artificial intelligent, be it good or bad. I just can’t help it. The intra-chapter bits of the Thunderhead were the parts I couldn’t wait to read because there was so much true in them and I loved the way it voiced its flawlessness and its choices. It sees it all but it can’t change human nature; it has done everything to ensure humans could live as immortals in a world made of commodities and everything they needed. Still, humans always find a way to ruin everything. It’s the sad truth.

The last book will be anxiously waited by yours truly and it will be read with my heart in my hand and a few tissues next to me, just in case. I’m sure I’ll need them.

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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5stars

We are not the same being we once were.
So then, if we are no longer human, what are we?

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Good things about this book: It is well written and it has a very original (and scary) plot.
Bad things about this book: When I bought it I thought it was a stand alone but it turns out it isn’t and I have to wait a lot for the sequel.
Do I recommend it? Yes yes yes!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

This scared the hell out of me. Second book by Shusterman and second win for me, that’s for sure. He writes and takes you to an adventure, gets you hooked up into the story with amazing descriptions of a world, so vivid, you believe it exists yet you don’t want to live in it. It was scary because of its realness. This was such a compelling story and it had this depth in it that made me realize that no matter what will happen, our future won’t be nice. How is it that we are forever destined to ruin every good thing the world offers us?

People prophesized doom at the hands of a soulless machine. But apparently the machine had a purer soul than any human.

The Earth in this book has defeated diseases and death, and its society is run by the Thunderhead, an AI pure and just who helps everyone. Long story short, the world is great. But there’s only one problem: if people don’t die, there won’t be enough space for all of them to live, eat, to work. People in it “survives”: they take jobs that aren’t really necessary, go to school when they don’t really need it, have lots of children they don’t want to take care of. They are not truly living because when you are not afraid of mortality, poverty and hunger, then what really is your purpose?

Immortality has turned us all into cartoons.

That’s how the Scythedom was born. Scythes have the power to glean people, killing them definitely, taking them off a world where they are immortal and they can reset their age whenever they like. Scythes are human beings that are given a license to kill (and to grant 1 year immunity if they want to) without consequences, without laws forbidding it, with the world scared of them but at the same time charmed by them. Charmed by these people in colorful robes who can randomly select you to remove you from the world, adding your death to their annual quota of people that need to be killed in order to maintain balance in population.

Power comes infected with the only disease left to us: the virus called human nature.

Scythes’ actions are not ruled by the Thunderhead, who is always just and never makes mistakes, so they are flawed: they’re humans after all. There is corruption, favoritism, unnecessary cruelty, and people are unaware of all that. They just keep on living until one of those Scythes decides you can no longer keep doing that. Maybe the decision was truly random or maybe just maybe that scythe didn’t like you because you were too rich, too ugly or too fat. Are they punished for being biased and unjust? Not really.

To put oneself above all other laws is a fundamental recipe for disaster.

It was obvious that in a society with no more death or diseases and only one self governed institution that proclaims itself above all laws there’d be corruption. It makes me sick thinking how inevitable it was because, of course, they are humans and humans with power are dangerous. Give a group of people too much power over humanity and you’ll see how everything the Thunderhead worked so hard for crumbles, one little piece at a time.

This book is about two scythe apprentices, Citra and Rowan, and the different paths they take and are forced to take in the year of training before the last test that will proclaim them fit or unfit for the role. Following their mentor around, the lovely Honorable Scythe Faraday, will show them what lies behind the scenes of gleaning. Will they like what they see? Can they see themselves wearing the scythe robe and killing people? Will they ever lose their humanity and start enjoying it?

There’s so much to say about this book but none of the things I can say about it will make it justice. I wrote vaguely about what is the reality of the book and what is it about but, trust me, it is so much more than that. This book has lots of layers and without reading it you wouldn’t unravel it the right way, in the right order. I will end up spoiling the journey and this is a journey I took and recommend everyone to take.

My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human.

Experience their journey first hand. Fall in love with characters, and hate other characters. Cheer for them. Have your heart broken and wish you had nanites inside of you like them that’ll make you heal and calm yourself in no time. Be mad at the injustice. Be frustrated at how ugly humans can really be when they think only about themselves and their wellbeing. Be moved. Learn. Be ready for all of this can seem improbable but maybe it is not after all.

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Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

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“There are many ways in which the “check brain” light illuminates, but here’s the screwed-up part: the driver can’t see it. It’s like the light is positioned in the backseat cup holder, beneath an empty can of soda that’s been there for a month. No one sees it but the passengers—and only if they’re really looking for it, or when the light gets so bright and so hot that it melts the can, and sets the whole car on fire.”

Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman
Why you should read this book: Because it’s important to understand what’s on the other side of mental illness, the side of the person suffering from it.

Summary from Goodreads, I can’t really write summaries lately, I want to write everything and spoil the book:

Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.

“Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.”

I don’t know what to say. This book was special, it felt huge and it made me feel so little inside. Caden’s journey is unique, its his own, it’s the most difficult he has ever been to.
I can’t begin to describe how real it felt, you were there with him, through his struggles with this mental illness that made the world feels fake. He was suspicious of everyone, they were all possible impostors, even his parents. He thought that his actions determined wether a day would be good or bad, wether his sister would be safe or in danger.

“The scariest thing of all is never knowing what you’re suddenly going to believe.”

When he is put in a hospital he finds himself with other boys/girls with problems like his. He meets his room mate, Hal the navigator, obsessed with maps, Skye, a blue haired girl and his never ending puzzle, Callie and her window watching routine, Carlyle, the volunteer who was the head of his therapy group and Dr. Poirot, the one eyed doctor in charge of his weekly evaluations. Every single one of this characters have a major role in Caden’s made up world, they assist him, they take him down, they are part of what he has to do to heal even when he doesn’t know what it is.

It’s not easy to review this book because it’s not a book, it’s so much more. It’s a journey through mental illness not to healing but to cohabiting with it and knowing what to do in order to not make it reach the surface anymore. It is deep in Caden’s brain, it is there, will always be there and there is nothing he can do to take it away. This illness is mean, he is not in control of what he sees, of what he believes, of what’s real and what’s not. It’s something that takes so much out of a fifteen year old boy and you want to help him and you do, with all your might, but in the end he has to do his part, and his part is the most important, without it he is going to go deeper and deeper until a point of no return.

“They want to do something – anything – to help me. Anything to change my situation. But they are as powerless as I am. The two of them are in a lifeboat, together, but so alone. The boat leaks, and they must bail in tandem to keep themselves afloat. It must be exhausting.
The terrible truth of their helplessness is almost too much to bear. I wish I would take them on board, but even if they could reach us, the captain would never allow it.
Right now it sucks to be me – but until now, it never occurred to me that it also sucks to be them.”

Caden is like any of us, he knows what is real but then he doesn’t know anymore, he is torn. It can happen any day, you are “normal” until you are not anymore. The only thing left to do is fight, face the world head high everyday and when we are feeling weak and there is a voice in our head saying “you will come to the depth one day”, you will have to be strong and say “Maybe one day, but not today!”.

Not today!

Do I recommend it? Yes, it is written in a marvelous way, it hits you hard and it does it in a way that you are not the same when you finish reading it.
Rate: 5/5

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