Book Review of Neil Shusterman's Scythe and Thunderhead
Neal Shusterman's Scythe and Thunderhead are two must-read novels for fans of dystopian fiction. Set in a world where death has been conquered and society is ruled by a group of "Scythes" who are responsible for keeping the population under control, these books follow the story of two young apprentices as they navigate the complex and dangerous world of the Scythedom. The Scythes are the only group of people outside the jurisdiction of the all knowing, benevolent AI computer, that rules humanity, called the Thunderhead.
It is in Neil Shusterman's Scythe, we meet Citra and Rowan, two teenagers chosen to become Scythe apprentices, a position that comes with the power to decide who lives and who dies. As they learn the ways of the Scythedom, they become embroiled in a power struggle that threatens to tear apart their world. Of course, a dystopian novel doesn't mean that a bit of romance can't be thrown in!
In Thunderhead, the sequel to Scythe, the story picks up where the first book left off, with Citra a fully-fledged scythe and Rowan a vigilante scythe figure, murdering corrupt scythes who have broken the laws of sycthedom. As Rowan, and Citra (who becomes known as Scythe Anasatasi), try to navigate the dangerous politics of their world, they must also contend with the growing threat of a rogue Scythe who is determined to bring down the Scythedom.
Shusterman's writing is compelling and thought-provoking, offering a deep exploration of what it means to be human. It investigates the complex ethical dilemmas that arise when mortality is no longer a concern. The characters are well-developed and relatable, and the plot is full of twists and turns that keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Book Club Questions on Scythe and Thunderhead
Book Club Questions on Scythe and Thunderhead (if you haven't read the book).
Personal Response to Neil Shusterman's Scythe and Thunderhead
The first time I read Scythe was a few years ago when I was working as Head of Libraries. I found it engaging, but didn't really look beyond its suitability for teenagers and young adults. This time round I was fascinated with the power and the role the Thunderhead played in the book. it couldn't have been more timely as I heard of the advent and immediate impact of Chatgpt, providing so much knowledge at one's fingertips.
The Thunderhead in the novel, is a benevolent omniscient ruler of humanity. The Thunderhead's algorithims are such that they know exactly how much freedom to give humanity in running its own business. Consequently it doesn't interfere in some areas and of course, the scythes rules themselves and are beyond the jurisdiction of the Thunderhead. It comes as no suprise then, that they are the group prone to in-fighting being led by greed, avarice and ambition. The inability of humanity to learn from its mistakes is powerfully explored in this fabulous series.
If you are a reader who enjoys thought-provoking stories that explore complex ethical issues, then this series is the one for you. Having read the first two books I can't wait to finish the trilogy, I have a feeling that the best is yet to come!
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Book Review of The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
The Paris Apartment is a well-named psychological thriller - the focus of the action is almost entirely within a single apartment inhabited by the dysfunctional Meunier family. The reader is introduced to them when Jess turns up to meet her brother Ben, only to find that he has gone missing.
The story is part who-dunnit and part why-did-they-dunnit with the various twists and turns of plot, that you'd expect of a thriller. The reader is invited into a world of subterfuge, lies and deception where very little is as it originally seems. Sophie, the elegant and sophisticated step-mum chooses to hide her origins, and the concierge, also has plenty of reasons to be hesitant about revealing who she really is.
The characters in the Meunier family are all caught up in the life of Ben, a charming, if somewhat disingenuous, journalist. They all have a different reason to slowly realise that they'd rather Ben wasn't in the apartment that his friend Nick, son of the bully Jacques Meunier, had invited him to live in. Jess, his sister, is repeatedly warned to leave things well alone, but determined to discover what has happened to her brother, she refuses, despite the danger this frequently puts her in.
Book Club Questions on Lucy Foley's The Paris Apartment
Book Club Questions on The Paris Apartment (if you haven't read the book!)
Personal Response to The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Stylistically, Lucy Foley's The Paris Apartment reminded me very much of Lisa Jewell's The Family Upstairs. There are even similarities in plot structrure and both Lisa Jewell and Lucy Foley wrote sequels to their novels where we learn more about the protagonists. Although I don't read many thrillers, The Paris Apartment did what it advertised on the tin. It was an interesting page-turner, with manageable short chapters, making it, in my view, a quick and fun holiday read.