Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Posted June 30, 2019 by Kate

Review: Scythe by Neal ShustermanCheck out on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Also by this author:
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Libby (My Library app)

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.

Oh my gosh! This certainly started my Book Junkie Trials readathon/reading challenge off with a bang! 

I was not expecting this book at all. Like, yes, I picked it out and knew it was coming, that kind of “expecting,” but I wasn’t expecting it to hit me straight out of left field with amazingness!! I don’t know who this Neal Shusterman guy is, but sign me up! I want to read them all.

I went into Scythe with very little knowledge of what it was about, and I think that’s the way to go. So I’m going to be as brief as possible while I describe the events in this wonderful book.

It takes place in a utopian setting where there is no war, government, disease, poverty, or really any motivation or need for anything. The Thunderhead is the AI that controls everything – everything except for the Scythedom, that is.

As humans are now living in the post-mortal age where there is no natural death and immortality and boredom are commonplace (indeed, the only true death people can’t be “revived” from is fire, which has multiple contingencies in every location), the population is growing far beyond what the planet can manage. It’s not unusual for people to have 20 kids!

But that’s not a good problem to have. So scythe’s were created as beings outside the law who “glean” random humans.

“You see right through the facades of the world,
Citra Terranova. You’d make a good scythe.”
Citra recoiled. “I’d never want to be one.”
“That,” he said, “is the first requirement.”
Then he left to kill their neighbor.

As you can imagine, these scythe’s are terribly horrifying for the general population. And they are beholden to no rules but the 10 the Scythe’s live by. They can glean anyone – anyone – without any repercussions.

The book follows are two teenagers who were chosen against their will to be an apprentice to a scythe. Citra, who has been described as a kind of Slytherin go-getter, which I 100% agree with, and Rowen, who is a self-proclaimed “lettuce,” (i.e., forgettable and unimportant) which is a great term. 

And it goes from there.

This book was endlessly fascinating, not just because of the simple but utterly captivating writing style Mr. Shusterman utilizes for his thought-provoking narrative that makes it so action-packed but effortless paced, but also his clever spin on the tired dystopian genre. It’s subtle, but it a very introspective book. Or at least, it made me think that way. It asked tough questions over ethical issues, but I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion in a way that I know I’ll be picking up book two very soon. Side note: it wasn’t preachy in any way. My words of the day for this book is awesome and subtle.

Rohan wanted to despise all of this, but there was something about honing one’s skill, no matter the nature of that skill, that was rewarding. What he hated was the fact that he didn’t hate it.

Instead of two teenagers, raging against a system of oppression where they can be free to *be themselves* and *feel their feels* and *do what they want*, Scythe features a premise of two teenagers fighting so hard for something that they don’t want, just so that they can improve the system and make the world a better place. It’s not a selfish fight, and I loved that.

No shade against the other utopian’s, but the two are the Ultimate Utopian Saviors.

I loved Rowan and Citra’s relationship because it felt very genuine. It’s mostly based on friendship and affection, but there’s real love there that I could feel because I felt the same way about both of them. The writing on this book is a tad distant, so it’s not too character-centric, but I thought it perfectly fit the tone of the book. These two really were clever, scheming cinnamon rolls to the very end.

Oddly, it’s a fun book. It’s twisty, kinda dark, but it brought up themes that made me think. I rooted for the characters in this book, even as I saw they weren’t all good. I craved to know more about this book, and couldn’t put it down! I’m glad I hopped on the Scythedom’s Highway to Hell, as it’s been dubbed, and thoroughly recommend this amazing book of ethics, change, corruption, sacrifice, and muurrrderrrr.

What books have you read that you really liked? Have you read any that have surprised you? Are you participating in the Book Junkie Trials, or a similar readathon/reading challenge? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

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