Review – Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Title Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)

Author Neal Shusterman

Description from Amazon

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 the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

Initial Thoughts

This book has been on my radar for a while but it’s not my usual cup of tea. I prefer fantasy to pure sci-fi. However, the last book in the series, The Toll, came out this month and everyone has been talking about this series. One of my favorite bookstagrammer’s @xenatine has been showing these books off a ton so I finally caved and decided to give them a go.

Some Things I Liked

  • The big questions. I’ve mentioned this before, but I love books that ask thought provoking questions. Scythe does a ton of that. There really is no right answer to some of the issues in this book and I love that. Are we right to “glean” people at random? Is the world really better without death or disease or crime? Can you know true happiness if you’ve never experienced pain? This book really got the gears in my head turning and it was a philosophical experience as much as anything else.
  • Names. I loved the names that the Scythes take and the symbolism behind them. I especially loved that last Scythe name chosen (no spoilers, but I’m a big fan of the historical figure chosen).
  • Futuristic without being the Jetsons. I really enjoyed the fact that this book was set in a non-specific future time period. Despite approximations, we never get an exact count on the year and yet, even though we are a few hundred years in the future, it doesn’t feel like something out of Star Trek or the Jetsons. I thought the progress for the time was thoughtfully done and the evolutions of certain technology made sense.

Series Value

I’m obsessed with this series. As soon as I finished Scythe, I picked up Thunderhead. The plot twists and characters are amazing and I can’t wait to keep reading.

Final Thoughts

I loved this book. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. To be fair, I’m actually glad I waited. This is a YA book but I don’t think I would have fully appreciated the themes as a young adult. My 27-year-old self needed to read this. My 27-year-old self took something away from this beyond a sci-fi story. I loved every page. This world is masterfully built and left me aching for more.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – if you read Scythe, and you didn’t immediately want to pick up the next book in the series, I feel sorry for you because this series is nothing short of addicting.
  • The Fever King by Victoria Lee – I didn’t love this book, it was too “sci-fi” for me but there are a lot of similar themes. If you like the thought-provoking nature of Scythe and you wanted to see a more futuristic world, try this series by Victoria Lee.
  • Fireborne by Rosaria Munda – if you liked the way the story was broken up – into Acts with POVs and journal entries, give this new release by Rosaria Munda a try. Once again, this book asks big questions about human nature and the way society should be structured.

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