Thou shalt kill.
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon Shuster Books
Publication Date: November 2016
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
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.
OH YES, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!
Scythe is one of those books you come across once in a blue moon. It’s the type of book that you’re hesitant about at first, intrigued by the concept, drawn in by the story, and by the end you’re blown away. It’s the type of book that you finish and think ‘yeah, that was alright’ but then two weeks later you’re still thinking about, still enraptured by the story, still fascinated by the world, still delighted with the experience. I love Scythe, I don’t know if I’d made that clear yet, and I’m about to tell you why.
Set in a dystopian society where death has been eliminated the population is quickly rising. Enter the scythes. While illness and ageing and injury have been defeated, people still need to die. Instead of doctors, the world has scythes, where people train to be professional killers – or gleaners. Every year scythes have to kill around 250 people each to keep the population in balance.
The concept of the story is what drew me in, the characters and the world building are what made me fall in love. Citra and Rowan are instantly relatable, shadowing our best selves. They’re compassionate and kind but they don’t shy away from a challenge. They take their job very seriously and understand why it needs to be done while on top of that they have this interesting friendship/relationship that I am dying to see more of.
I loved Faraday and Curie, but the villains bring the true essence of this story alive. Technically, Goddard and his disciples don’t really break any rules, but their morals are ethically questionable. Oh, I do love a morally grey villain. I didn’t agree with him, but I could understand where he was coming from. I can understand why killing people might bring such a rush. That doesn’t mean it’s okay. I also loved that the Scythes themselves are feared and yet worshipped. I loved that Citra’s little brother had collectibles of them – it had me imagining them as though they were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures and Pokemon trading cards. Except Pokemon and the TMNT don’t show up at your house and kill you.
“It’s not that I don’t want to, but I’m just busy now. Can I throw you under a truck some other time?”
I loved the journal entries at the beginning of each chapter. They added so much depth to the world, to the characters. They added history and hidden truths, secrets that these characters are only just admitting to themselves, secrets they are afraid to share with others.
There were a few issues I had with this book, but trust me, they were very minor issues. The first is Rowan’s friend who’s name I cannot for the life of me remember – the one who kept jumping off buildings. I wanted to see more of him. He’s interesting. I don’t understand why something so juicy was put in front of us, just to have a taste, and then to not learn any more about him. The second thing is, when Rowan and Citra were split up, I found myself bored with Rowan’s parts of the story. Well, not so much bored as desperate to get back to Citra. I think that was the part of the story I found most interesting, while Rowan’s part of the story was a little bit predictable and underwhelming.
With that bing said there was twist after twist after twist that had me screaming, that had me at the edge of my seat, that had me dying, desperate for more. On top of that, in the next book, we get to see Scythe Lucifer and we, hopefully, get more from the Thunderhead. To say I’m excited is an understatement.
“Without the threat of suffering, we can’t experience true joy.”
Overall I am giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. While I did have a few minor grievances with this book, the experience I had reading it, and the conversations I’ve had about it since, are second to none. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a book so much in a long time and I know it’s going to be one of my all time favourites for years to come.
What did you think of Scythe? What was your favourite part?
Did you see any of the twists coming? If yes, which ones?