This is an extremely suspenseful, and surprisingly thoughtful science fiction novel. Honestly, I’m kind of at a loss as to what else to say! But mostly that’s because my brain feels like it’s just been squeezed through some sort of bladed juicer and now I’m expected to have coherent thoughts.
I think this series is one of the few where I’m so intrigued by the ideas behind the story, and the plot developments, that I’m actually okay with the characters being somewhat empty vessels. It’s the only thing keeping me from giving this book five stars, honestly. I zoomed through all 500 pages of this probably in about six hours (spread out across several days). I’m just so compelled by the world that Shusterman has built.
It’s been about ten months since Rowan went underground after embracing the mantle of Scythe Lucifer, a Scythe who only gleans corrupt Scythes. Meanwhile, Citra has become Scythe Anastasia, a junior Scythe who has a lot of influence with the other junior Scythes. We also get a new POV character, Greyson Tolliver, who I actually came to like more than Citra or Rowan in the space of about a chapter. (Okay, and a weird thing I want to confess: I found myself becoming exponentially more fond of Citra when the narrative was calling her Anastasia (after the missing Romanov princess) rather than Citra Terranova, and this is because Anastasia is a really cool name to have chosen, and Citra is a stupid one. I won’t deny that some of my reasons for thinking these characters aren’t super compelling are probably pretty shallow.)
For the most part, the plot in this thing just barrels along, and all the twists and reversals that occur make sense and push things forward. There was one instance where I was annoyed by a twist (I was previously happy to have been done with a plotline it turned out Shusterman wasn’t finished with) but it ended up being central to the rest of the book, and Shusterman pulled it out.
We get a lot here from the Thunderhead as well, the AI that cares for humanity and who made immortality possible. I really liked reading the POV from the Thunderhead, and I liked that I’m not entirely sure what Shusterman’s intentions with it are. Is it benevolent, neutral? We’re never encouraged to think that an AI controlling everything is bad, but we’re not encouraged to think it’s good, either.
Mostly I’m just really looking forward to seeing how this series ends up, because I’ve not been able to anticipate pretty much anything about it so far.