Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy
Page Count: 435
“You have three hundred sixty-five days of immunity.” And then, looking him in the eye, said, “And I’ll be seeing you on day three hundred sixty-six.”
Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Scythe is one of the most unique concepts for a book I’ve read in a while. What if you live in a world where there is no need to fear death? Where people know everything there is to know, and humans have conquered everything that we fear now. That’s the main question present in this book, what if?
However, no world can be perfect, and the world that Shusterman has built is no exception. Since people don’t die in this world, there needs to be a way for the population to be controlled, and that’s where the scythes come in. Scythes are no more than just mere humans, but they live above the word of the Thunderhead (basically a super charged internet) and are the ones who decide who lives and who dies.
Sounds cool right?
In terms of fulfilling the promise set up by the blurb, Scythe definitely delivered. We follow two teenagers who are chosen to become apprentices in the scythedom. What could possibly go wrong about being trained to kill people? Well, it turns out that a lot can. The majority of the book follows Rowan and Citra learning what it means to be scythe and the implications of permanently taking a life. The book takes it time to develop the world and the plot, but by no means was it boring. How this utopian world can to be was truly fascinating, and I would love to see more of the world as a whole.
We also delve a lot into the political aspects of the scythedom, which I absolutely adored. There are ten commandments that the scythes must follow, and there’s plenty of disagreement over these “archaic” rules present in the book. One aspect of being a scythe is deciding who the next gleaning victim is. However, this has to be without bias and targeting. Even with the rules in place, there are scythes who don’t exactly agree with them.
The plot and story development is by far the strongest thing in this novel, and it’s full of interesting twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. I don’t want to talk anymore about the plot, as it’s something you should explore for yourself!
I also highly enjoyed the characters and the variety of personalities present. Rowan has a laid back, go with the flow kind of attitude which is a sharp contrast to Citra. She has a very stubborn personality (which is something I can relate to), and is also more morally conflicted over her new role. Since we see more conflict rising in Citra, I do think her character had more development throughout the book. While Rowan did develop, his felt more obvious and not as complex. I also really grew to like the mentors, especially Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie. Each character dealt with the aspect of gleaning in a different way, and I appreciated the different insights.
The only thing I really didn’t enjoy about the book was the romance between Rowan and Citra. While it did make the main conflict of the story a little more interesting, I don’t think it added much to the overall story. This brand new world and complex dynamic between the Thunderhead and the scythedom is plenty to explore in the book. There wasn’t much need for a romance, at least in my opinion. The pairing also didn’t do anything for me. It’s not like I didn’t like the two characters together, it falls more along the lines that I simply didn’t care about it.
Overall, Scythe was still one of the coolest books I’ve read in a while. While there may be a lot of development and a “meh” romance in it, there were so many other aspects that played apart in making this amazing story that I can’t not recommend it! So, if you’re looking for a new light sci-fi book to read, check out Scythe!