Author: Neal Shusterman
Year of Publication: 2016
Genre: YA/Science Fiction/Dystopian
Number of Pages: 435
Summary: From Goodreads: “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.”
Review: I picked up this book from Book Outlet after I saw a few of my favourite Bookstagrammers raving about how much they enjoyed it. When my friend mentioned that she was reading it, I decided to buddy read it with her so that it wouldn’t sit unread on my shelf any longer. I’m glad that I decided to pick this book up because I ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would.
Scythe takes place in the future, in a world where humanity has conquered death. In theory, people can live forever, but in practice, Scythes have the job of gleaning members of the population to keep its size under control. As the population continues to grow, more Scythes are required, and Scythe Faraday takes on Citra and Rowan as his apprentices with the understanding that only one of them will be chosen to become a Scythe and the other will return to their normal life. However, after an unexpected turn of events, it is decided that neither of them will return to their normal lives.
I enjoyed the first third of the book because I enjoyed reading about Scythe Faraday training Citra and Rowan. I liked Scythe Faraday’s statistical approach to his job, and I appreciated how he didn’t take his job of ending human life lightly. One thing that annoyed me about the first third of the book was that it introduced a romantic element that I felt was entirely unnecessary and ultimately led to Rowan making some terrible decisions.
The romantic element leads me to the part of the book that I wasn’t a huge fan of. The events of the first conclave led to one of my least favourite tropes being introduced; the only one shall live trope. I’m not a fan of this trope because it’s incredibly predictable and it annoys me to no end. Fortunately, even though the ending was predictable, there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested and invested in the story.
One of the things that I really liked about this book was the characters. I found Citra to be a great heroine, who has drive and determination and a solid moral compass. I also liked Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie, and I appreciated their old and solemn approach to gleaning. I was not a fan of the main villain, Scythe Goddard, because I found him to be a one-dimensional character designed to show how terrible the new way of gleaning was. I had mixed feelings about Rowan, but I think the reason for this is because Rowan had mixed feelings about being a Scythe and all of the outside forces trying to influence him.
The other thing that I liked about this book is that it makes you think about morality. On one side, there’s Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie, who don’t enjoy gleaning, but they know that it’s necessary for the continuance of humanity. On the other side, there’s Scythe Goddard and his followers, who take enjoyment in killing and manipulating people to get whatever he wants.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters, and I found the premise to be interesting. Even though I was annoyed with some aspects of the book, I was still invested in the story and the characters.
Favourite Quote: “Everyone is guilty of something, and everyone still harbors a memory of childhood innocence, no matter how many layers of life wrap around it. Humanity is innocent; humanity is guilty, and both states are undeniably true.”
Rating: 4/5 Stars!