Thunderhead (Arc of the Sythe Book 2)

By Neal Shusterman

Genre: Science Fiction/Post Apocalyptic

Publication Date: January 9, 2018

Bang Bang Review

I kinda don’t remember how Scythe ended so hopefully I don’t reveal any spoilers.  After Rowan kills Goddard and Rand, he escapes. A major takeaway is after Rowan pushes Citra and snaps her neck leaving her deadish, Citra hears a voice telling her she is meant for greatness (or some bullshit like that-I don’t remember).  That voice was the Thunderhead and you can probably surmise by the title that book two is about the Thunderhead. Thunderhead picks up almost a year after book one where Scythe Anastasia, Citra, is the new scythe and remains working under Scythe Claire.

Thunderhead is riddled with spoilers so this review is going to be very short.  If you want spoilers, click here.

If you recall from book one, Goddard was a new age scythe who believed there should be less rules involving quotas or less government if you will.  His death was meant to squash all that thus ending all the panic.  Anastasia is the new shiny scythe and she’s decided to give her victims one month to get their affairs in order before she returns to glean them and of course all the new age scythes and some of the old ages ones are up in arms.  Giving people time is unheard of and as a result, Anastasia is now in the spotlight of followers and haters.

Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious scythe named Scythe Lucifer who is killing scythes he deems as bad-revenge gleaning; race cleansing gleaning; etc. When Anastasia and Claire are almost murdered, gleaning by fire, they think Lucifer is after them and Scythe Constantine has ordered them to be protected.

Meanwhile again, we have a new character named Greyson Tolliver who is a loner and talks to the Thunderhead adnausium because his parents are shitty.  He’s selected to enter an academy but is soon singled out.  I won’t tell you why because of spoilers.

More stuff goes down but I can’t say and there’s another conclave but I can’t say and some serious shit goes down in the end but I can’t say.  What I can say is that this book is NEVER boring and that ending-DAMN!

It is DISGUSTINGLY clear that the 2016 election affected Shusterman because there are plenty of Trump metaphors.

The Thunderhead is an interesting character and reminded me of Google with a heaping cup of government splash of God.  The Thunderhead, like we’ve been taught in church, is always watching us-there are cameras everywhere.  Although it sees all of the good and bad, it can’t intervene and when bad things really happen it cries.  This was an interesting theme because the Thunderhead is basically a computer but it has feelings.  This series is extremely approachable to teens because it’s good vs evil and moments of violence but there are some pretty strong themes under the surface.  Acceptance, free will, judge and jury, and mortality-if a short life has been eliminated, does life have meaning?

This book was a perfect score until about 75% in.  It started to get a little too bananas.  It was entertaining and shocking but I felt it was a bit too ridiculous. There was one moment between the villains that bothered me and I’ll explain in the spoiler section. With that being said, I liked Anastasia and all the other characters; Shusterman’s world building is clear and concise; and the story was never predictable.  I enjoyed it immensly, I just wish the ending wasn’t so…So upon a few weeks of reflection, I decided to up my initial rating of 4.5.  The ending was shocking and I didn’t know how to process it but I’ve decided that the ending had to happen.

Bang Bang Rating: bang

FIRST BANG OF 2018!!!!!


Landscape with Invisible Hand

landscape with invisible hand

Landscape with Invisible Hand

By MT Anderson

Genre: Science fiction/Contemporary

Publication Date: 9/12/17


One day aliens inhabited, not invaded, earth promising a better life but it was actually only for the 1%.  The rest of the world is poor and starving and trying to find a way to get up to the sky to live like the wealthy.  Adam and his family is unfortunately the 99% and their life is abysmal.

Adam is an artist and paints everything he sees and I wondered how he could afford all his supplies when his ever optimist mother is unemployed. I know his teacher buys supplies for his class but does Adam take supplies home?  Paint and especially canvas is expensive; I guess we aren’t supposed to ask questions.  Back to the review…

Adam and his girlfriend get a great idea to make money- a reality show about their love.  They film episodes of their dates and since the aliens, the vuvv, “invaded” during a 50’s themed drive-in movie, the vuvv love everything 50’s nostalgia and Adam and his girlfriend have to use words like groovy.  Of course at some point they begin to hate each other and it becomes a problem much like Adam’s entire life.  He has a disease that gives him no control of his bowels, his father is a dick, and his girlfriend and her family are dicks too.  So when Adam has an opportunity to win an art contest that could get his family up to the 1%, you just know that that is NEVER going to happen-DAMN YOU MT; CAN”T THIS LOVELY FAMILY HAVE ANY GOOD LUCK?  I was so angry and frustrated at this wonderful family’s bad luck that I began to hate this book but I knew there was a deeper message so I trucked along.

There is an ending and that’s all I’ll say but I liked it and the message and it stayed true to the story and the family.

This was a short albeit heartbreaking story about a little family who tries to stay positive in their shitty lives.  Adam had a great attitude and took no crap from anyone and his mother’s half glass full perspective really helped me get through this depressing book.

Bang Bang Rating bombbombbombbomb 1/4

Carve the Mark


Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark #1)

By Veronica Roth

Genre: Science Fiction/Space Travel

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb 1/2


Akos, son of an oracle, lives on the farthest planet from the son-Thuvhe.  His life along with many others is fated yet, he doesn’t know his fate until all the fates are announced space-wide.  Now that all the fates have been revealed, all the fated including Akos and his family are in danger.

Cyra is the youngest daughter of the Shotet’s elite family.  The Shotets live on Thuvhe but are at war with Akos’ people.  Cyra’s family will stop at nothing to rule their planet including kidnapping and killing to change their fates.

I also forgot to mention that there’s a current or something and all the people in this book have powers and Cyra has chronic pain and I know a lot of people are upset at how that’s portrayed.

This is a brand new world set in space so of course it’s going to take some time to world build but I felt like this book was about 100 pages too long.  The pacing was incredibly slow and considering how vast the Divergent world was, I expected Roth’s world building to be great.  The farthest planet from the sun is the coldest-seen that before.  Colorful festivals-seen that before. Marking your skin after a kill and fighting to the death in an arena-just read that in The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine. People have varied powers that are a gift or a curse-seen that before.   Then again, Divergent was similar to Hunger Games.

There are two major characters Cyra and Akos and you know they are eventually going to fall in love.  I applaud Roth for trying to avoid the instal-love-trope but I would have preferred it to what we got here.  There was no heat between the two.  I think Roth should consult Bardugo or Maas on how to write a hot romance.

I had a problem with Akos.  In the beginning of the book, he’s very soft spoken and kind of invisible.  I thought he was eight years old until the text told me he was fourteen.  In one chapter, he talks about how no one can hear him because he’s so soft spoken an on the next page, he’s yelling and threatening and defending his family-totally uneven.  I feel like this is a rookie writing mistake and Roth is not a Rookie.

The big villain is Ryzek and he wasn’t developed enough to be the awful person he was.  We only received two brief instances that turned him into a villain but it wasn’t enough to explain how HORRIBLE he was.

This book had a lack of urgency.  There were two instances when I felt there was a big reveal.  The major plot point was the reveal of a certain person’s fate and it was glossed over for a couple of chapters.  The other was the revelation of a character and no one seemed upset about what this character did even though it was f’ed up.  Because the book didn’t seem to think it was important, I didn’t either which make the book anti-climactic.

Now to address the big issue of race.  I purposely avoided reviews because I didn’t want to be tainted so I had no idea this book made the brown people savages/bad guys.  The first instance is when Cyra’s mother’s hair is described as hard to run your fingers through.  I didn’t equate that with kinky hair/black hair because I know that some white people have really curly hair.  However when Cyra is visiting a doctor on a different planet and the Shotet are described as brown, I thought, “Oh damn!”  I can’t believe that people still make this mistake.  Writing brown people as the savages/scavengers/killers is not diversity; it is perpetuating a stereotype.  Black people are still fighting this stigma.  I still get followed around stores because the employees think I’m going to steal and it’s only because I’m black.  The Black Lives Matter movement is because brown people are unfairly targeting for their skin color. I can’t believe no one at Harper saw this as a red flag. I’m sure Roth didn’t mean for this to happen.  This is what editors and beta readers and reviewers are for.  They are meant to catch this.

I think Roth just tried too hard.  This is a simple plot and all she had to do was add a new spin on it.  She’s a good writer and that’s most of the battle.  The problem with this book is that there was just too much going on and the main characters weren’t written well.

Here are a couple of quick spoilers that really bothered me in this book.

Gilded Cage


Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1)

By Vic James

Genre: Science Fiction/Alternate Universe/Fantasy

Expected Publication: February 14, 2017

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 3/4


In this contemporary alternate universe London, all citizens who are not an Equal (wealthy, influential, magical) are required by law to participate in slavedays-serving ten years as a slave.

Abi Hadley was able to get her parents, her seventeen year old brother, and her ten year old  sister to complete their slavedays at the house of one of the most wealthiest families in London, the Jardines. Although two of the Jardine boys are powerful and mean, the third brother is kind and has caught the eye of Abi.  While servitude in the Jardine house is peaceful, there’s an uprising in one of the slave towns and the Jardine’s and the other wealthy families who make the laws will do anything to keep slavedays law.

Gilded Cage is an allegory to what our world could have looked like if slavery had not been abolished.  In this book, the lawmakers are Skilled and have immense magical powers and although our lawmakers do not posses magic; they still posses the power to oppress.  The powerful ones on the outside think slavedays are not that bad because the slaves have jobs and are fed so therefore life is good for them until someone sheds light on reality-hunger, police brutality, and sloven conditions.  Similar to the start of the Civil Rights Movement where the North witnessed the fire hoses on TV, people began to take action to end slavery and this where Gilded Cage begins.

In addition to the politics, there are feminist themes and themes of unconditional love. Wonderful character development considering there are a lot of characters and James has created an interesting world.  Gilded Cage was thrilling and exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens in book two.

My only issue was the family tree.  The Parva-Jardine family is quite extensive and confusing so a glossary or a simple family tree would be a helpful addition to the final book.