Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Book One in Arc of a Scythe
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Death no longer exists. Well, permanent death anyway. Revival centers have sprung up across the world, guaranteeing people a ticket back to life. And they can even turn back the clock, relive their early adult life, over and over again. Given the rampant undeath, there must be some form of population control. Scythes were enlisted to weed out the population. When a Scythe gleans it is permanent death. Scythes must be diverse in their gleaning, making sure to keep a balance between races and never stray over their intended quota. And a Scythe must never like gleaning. But what happens when a Scythe starts to enjoy the power over death?
Scythe took a while to catch my attention, but Neal Shusterman’s smooth writing style and subtle humor are not to be missed. The reader will switch back and forth between Citra and Rowan’s point of view as the two teens begin to learn what it means to be a Scythe. The two create a great contrast to one another as the story develops and their paths split in radically different directions. You will see a prime example of how teaching techniques can change a person, for better or for worse.
In between chapters, there were also journal entries from various Scythes that interacted with the two main characters. It was fascinating to see their different opinions on death and being a Scythe. Everyone seems to carry their own philosophy on how gleaning should be done, and the drastic differences in technique reflect their personalities.
And the world-building was well done. The overall state of the world and how the population has taken to never dying is written in gradually so as not to overload the reader. There are some political aspects in this book as you delve deeper into the world of the Scythes and how they function, but the humor that is woven in between the lines helps to soften them. The same can be said about the different Scythe’s philosophies on life and death.
This isn’t a book for those looking for immediate resolution, or fast paced action. I recommend this book to those who are willing to invest their time in a story that promises to grow with each addition. The issues that surface in book one are far from over. This is also a simpler writing style since it is young adult. I’m looking forward to book two!
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