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Thunderhead

Readers are thrown back into the postmortal world of Neal Shusterman's Scythe in this high-speed sequel.

Citra Terranova has finished her scythe training and is now a junior scythe known as Scythe Anastasia. Rowan Damisch, who had been pitted against Citra for the scythe position, is on the run. Calling himself Scythe Lucifer, he has illegally taken on the duties of a scythe and gleans scythes who abuse their power and status. While the scythedom "had, for... many years, administered the quietus of death with a noble, moral, and humane hand," there is a new branch of the scythedom full of a "frightening pride... that finds pleasure in the act of taking life." It is the scythes who align with this "new order" that Scythe Lucifer gleans. The new order, however, is growing in power and popularity. They see Scythe Anastasia as something of a thorn in their side; Scythe Lucifer, however, is clearly someone who must be stopped.

Scythe Anastasia also has an uneasy relationship with Scythe Lucifer. Having trained side by side, Citra and Rowan share an extremely strong bond. The last time they were together, "they both said the words they had sworn they'd never allow themselves to say. In... that desperate but triumphant moment, he told her that he loved her, and she admitted to him that, yes, she loved him, too." Citra wants Rowan to be safe; Scythe Anastasia has a problem with Scythe Lucifer's methods.

Navigating this political and moral landscape is difficult but as the scythedom becomes more fractious, Citra and Rowan find themselves facing ever greater danger. Readers will fly through this 500-plus-page novel, barely aware of the time passing as the stakes rise rapidly, and the plot races at a breathless pace to a massive cliffhanger. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness