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Thunder Head by Neal Shusterman.

April 27, 2018 Comments off

ThunderheadThunder Head by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is part 2 of the Arc of the Scythe series the first being Scythe which is also reviewed on this blog. It is brilliant.

There are two powers in this dystopian world, Thunder Head the creator and the Scythes who rule death, and never the twain shall meet. Each has it’s role but there is division in the Scythe world that Thunder Head is deeply concerned about. That conflict is what this novel is all about as population control is essential in a world where nobody needs to die.

Thunder Head rules this idyllic world because it has solved all humankind’s problems. Global warming, the gap between rich and poor, crime, you name it Thunder Head has solved it. Nobody dies unless they want to or the Scythes deem that they are to be gleaned permanently from the planet. Those prone to crime have been treated genetically, sociopaths have been given a conscience and psychopaths have been given sanity. The age of mortality and suffering are over.

So why is there division among the Scythes? Who can be unhappy in paradise? Has the human ego, ambition and capacity for greed been eliminated?

There is much philosophy in this book told in short chapters amid the action, narrated by a humanised Thunder Head that gets to the soul of Humankind. The other chapters advance the plot and there  is action and intrigue aplenty.

Citra has become Scythe Anastasia and works with master Scythe Marie Curie. Yes all the scythes have names famous from the old world of mortality and they will give you a smile as you read. Jim Morrison, Golda Meir and Nelson Mandela are others.

Rowan has taken a secret role trying to remove corrupt scythes from the world and this has precipitated a lot of action but it is Citra who has caused the most ripples. In the background Scythe Michael Faraday is working on a different tact that is hopefully going to be the salvation of the world.

Brilliantly conceived and written by Neal Shusterman, the action at times is breath taking and the philosophical argument thought provoking. One of the best novels this year or any other year for that matter. I await book 3 with bated breath.

Senior fiction and young adult but good intermediate readers will devour it too as they did with the latter novels in the Harry Potter series which dealt with equally complex topics. There is even a Voldemort like resurrection.

The 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford.

February 4, 2018 Comments off

1000 year boyThe 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is storytelling of the highest order. It is the sort of story that keeps me reading children and young adult literature. To be able to write like this is a gift to behold.

Alfie is more than a 1000 years old and he was 11 years old when the Vikings attacked northern England. In fleeing them his father is killed.  His father had acquired magical pills called life-pearls which had the power to stop the aging process but not to stop death by accident or by killing.

Alfie and his mother mix the life-pearl oil with their own blood in the traditional way of slashing two stripes across the upper arm and rubbing the oil in. They are now Neverdeads. For more than a 1000 years they  wander Britain, never aging and keeping to themselves. It is a stressful life and not wise to be discovered.

The only way to stop the aging process is to use another life-pearl and administer it the same way, then the aging process will start again with the finality of death. There is only one life-pearl left which they hide in the event that one of them is killed. They don’t want to leave the other alone.

A tragic fire leaves Alfie alone and taken into care by the authorities, but before he is taken away he sees a bearded man who has the same two scars that he has.  The man yells at Alfie in old Norse “keep your mouth shut”. The tension builds.

Alfie wants to find the remaining Life-pearl so he can age and live a normal life and you guessed it, so does the bearded man, but to find it Alfie is going to need a boat.

Superbly written in 105 short chapters with hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you keen. Alfie is a marvelous character who doesn’t want to live for ever. Who does?

Good readers at primary level, intermediate school readers, and junior high school readers will devour this highly imaginative and thought provoking novel. What not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford is also reviewed on this blog.