Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA Fantasy, Sci Fi, Dystopia
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
This book, guys. This book is ruthless. This book is jaw dropping. This book is vicious. This book is beautiful.
As the blurb says, Scythe takes place in a future world where there is no longer disease or war. A computer-like entity called The Thunderhead (think if IBM’s Watson and Amazon’s Alexa had baby) controls everything to make living as pleasant as possible. The Thunderhead has the technology to make you younger, eradicate depression, control the weather, help raise your children, drive your car, etc. The world is perfect.
In order to control the population, Scythes are needed to keep it in check. Being a Scythe calls for the highest moral discipline, along with mental and physical strength. That brings us to the two newest Scythe apprentices: Citra and Rowan. They do not want to become Scythes, which is basically the first requirement to becoming a Scythe: You have to not want to kill someone.
Scythe follows the journey of Citra and Rowan through their apprenticeship. We not only get to see the brutality behind the “art” of killing, but also the humanity. Would you be willing to kill someone in order to help keep the world perfect?
As usual, let’s talk about the good and the bad:
- The world building. I thought Shusterman did such an incredible job creating this “perfect” world. The politics behind the separation of Scythe and state go deep, and you will learn so much behind the closed doors of the Scythedom.
- The characters. I fell in love with a few of the Scythes, which sounds rather morbid since they, you know, kill people. They are so well developed and they each have their own methods for “gleaning” (that’s Scythe speak for “killing”.)
- The moral ambiguity. You know I love me some morally grey characters. If that’s your jam, then oh man, this book is for you. One minute I found myself gasping, “What!? This is horrible!” And then the next minute I’m nodding my head saying, “Hmm, well, okay. That does make sense…” Seriously, what is wrong with me!?
- So. Many. Twists. Just when you think things couldn’t get any crazier, they do.
- Each chapter starts with a journal entry that belongs to a Scythe. They were my favorite parts of the book. I loved reading the thoughts behind a “pro” Scythe and seeing the world behind their eyes.
- Citra’s character development fell a bit flat to me. She starts off very one dimensional, and she didn’t really gain much traction until the very end. I wanted more from her.
- Ok, so let me preface this by saying I thought the pacing of the story was very good. I felt it was fast paced. With that being said, I heard a lot of complaints that the story starts “slow”. I don’t know what these people are talking about because I FLEW through this book. I couldn’t put it down! So, I don’t really know why I’m including this in the ‘bad’ section of my review, but I wanted to throw it out there in case you read this book and you’re like, “Wow, Amy, why didn’t you warn me this book starts out slow?” Well, my answer is: it didn’t feel slow to me!
- Do not expect romance. In fact, what little romance there was felt lack-luster and forced, and foreshadows it may pick up more in the sequel.
I highly, highly recommend you pick up this book. I buddy-read Scythe with a lovely group of ladies from Bookstagram, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. I already finished the sequel, Thunderhead, and I loved it just the same!