Review Blog

Feb 07 2018

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

cover image

Arc of a Scythe, book 1.Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406379242
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Teens Top Ten. 2018 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction (2017), Michael L. Printz Honor (2017). Themes: Dystopian fiction, Death, Good and evil, Violence. Citra and Rowan are two teens who have been chosen to be the apprentices of Scythe Faraday, one of the Scythes who ends life in a society where hunger, poverty and even death itself has disappeared. This is the only way to control the population size and the pair have to learn how to choose and glean a life. However Scythe Goddard, who really enjoys killing, begins to change the rules about taking a life and Rowan and Citra find that they are in danger of being killed in the political fallout.
Shusterman has written a riveting but also challenging book that looks at what would happen in a world that has conquered disease and death itself. He has described a world where creativity seems to have disappeared and little innovation is necessary as the Thunderhead, an impartial cloud computer, has oversight of everything except the work of the Scythes. At the same time he keeps the reader's interest with the action packed adventures that Citra and Rowan are faced with as well as the ethical dilemmas with which they have to come to terms.
Diary entries break up the narrative and provide readers with time to pause and think about what it means to live in that society, the feelings of the Scythes about killing and what death means to an individual. Amid all the bloodshed and violence, there are glimpses of humour, and readers are faced with the question that Citra and Rowan must face as Scythes - could they kill another person?
A fabulous cover, fast paced action and a world that should be a utopia but isn't, all make Scythe a most memorable tale and enthralling beginning to the series.
Pat Pledger

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