Series Review: Scythe and Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman

In this edition of Series Review, I’m reviewing the first two books in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy (The Toll is due out later this year). As always, if spoilers are a thing that bothers you, don’t read on. My review of Thunderhead may contain spoilers for Scythe.

series review


Scythe is the first book in this series and I was hooked from the opening pages. The premise is terrifying: mankind has evolved past death, but the population still needs to be controlled somehow, so Scythes are appointed to choose who must die and to take their lives. It’s one of those books that is horrifying but you can’t bring yourself to look away. It opens with a Scythe visiting Citra’s home. We feel immediately the fear and reverence people feel towards the Scythe. Citra herself is brilliant: outspoken, blunt and honest. Soon after we meet Rowan, who shows amazing strength in going with a classmate to face his gleaning. Neither of them want to be Scythes, but Scythe Faraday sees something in them that would make them brilliant at it, and so they become his apprentices. The gleanings are haunting. The methods the Scythes use are fascinating.  Every Scythe takes a different approach to their vocation. Faraday sees gleaning as a spiritual thing, an honour to be carefully considered and taken seriously. Not all Scythes agree with him. There are another group who find a lot of enjoyment in taking lives, and this book really pitches these two sides against each other. Meanwhile, Citra and Rowan find themselves pitted against each other to become the next Scythe, whose first task will be to glean the one who loses. Brilliantly written and completely impossible to put down. I picked up the sequel the second I finished.


Citra is now living her best life as Scythe Anastasia, shaking things up with her unusual method of gleaning: she gives her chosen subjects one month to put their affairs in order, after which time they may choose the method of their death (or die from the poison which she injects them with and which will activate when the month is up if they don’t return to her). This added a new perspective on gleanings. I did wonder if they would get a bit dull and repetitive in this second book, but they definitely don’t. Rowan, who acts under his assumed name of Scythe Lucifer is hunting down Scythes he believes to be immoral and is gleaning them. Meanwhile, Citra and Scythe Curie are under threat from an unknown source. We also get an insight into the Thunderhead in this book, which was interesting, especially as we see the separation between the Thunderhead and the Scythedom. This was an action packed book with some really great storylines, but I thought it got a bit bonkers towards the end and to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what went down there. I’m definitely looking forward to reading The Toll and making sense of it!

Have you read these books? If so, please come and talk to be about the ending of Thunderhead because WHAT WAS THAT? 

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