Imagine a world in which death is no longer a natural threat. Disease has been conquered. Almost all wounds can be repaired. The ecosystem has been balanced. The economy is fair and almost irrelevant. Life is easy and orderly. How? Well, certainly not because of humanity. In this reality, all the functions of the world are handled by a cognizant artificial intelligence called The Thunderhead. The Thunderhead is benevolent, paternal, and incorruptible. The only thing the Thunderhead cannot do is regulate population numbers. That is the one thing left to humankind.
In order to be sure that the AI called the Thunderhead did not become a killing machine, humanity formed what is called the Scythedom. A Scythe is a carefully selected, highly trained, deeply revered assassin whose function is to regulate population by "gleaning" a quota of people every month. ("Gleaning" is a sugar-coated way of saying "killing.") Scythe's are meant to be impartial, unemotional, just, and humane. However, they are still human and humans are all susceptible to corruption.
The Thunderhead is not permitted to interfere with the Scythedom. It is the only facet of existence that the Thunderhead is barred from overseeing. However, the Thunderhead loves humanity, and it knows that the Scythedom is rotting with debasement. The Thunderhead is powerless to assist in the current construct. However, all rules have loopholes. If the humans can manipulate those loopholes, certainly the Thunderhead can too.
Neal Shusterman's second Arc of a Scythe novel, Thunderhead, is a uniquely fascinating take on a society born from the demise of the world. The characters are layered with differing levels of morality, depravity, and hope. This is not your average teen dystopian novel, which lean towards grand acts of heroism and doomed romances. This is a vision of tomorrow like we have never seen before.
Recommended for ages 12+
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
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