Monday, February 13, 2017

YA Science Fiction: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

28954189Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages:  448
Published:  November 22nd, 2016

Source:  Library

Why I wanted to read this:  Scythe won a Printz honor and I've been looking for some more YA books my child might like to read.  The premise piqued my interest:   

 " 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."  (From Goodreads)

Scythes have ten rules that they live by, rules that were designed to help control the population and guide them in the process of their "gleanings" (killing of others.)  The manner in which they choose to take someone's life defines what kind of Scythe they are. Scythes are supposed to be moral, just, and ethical, but not all follow the same rules.   Citra and Rowan are two teenagers who encounter Scythe Faraday as he is performing one of his gleanings, he becomes intrigued by the way they interact with him and see's potential for them to become scythes.  Enough to choose them both to be his apprentice, something that neither of them is interested in doing.   But, no one can refuse a scythe.  Faraday will train each of them, but only one of them can go on to be a scythe.  Shusterman creates this fascinating world where there is no aging or disease, and natural deaths don't occur anymore.  People have nanites which can heal you, you can wind back your age and even if you try to kill yourself (or "splat", which is a horrible image),  you get healed and are returned to your normal life.  Then there are the scythes, who are skilled in the art of killing.  They are supposed to randomly choose their targets, yet sometimes they make the choice of who and why they are going to kill someone. There's also a lot of power politics going on within the Scythedom, partial because Faraday should have never taken on two apprentices and because another scythe is scheming in the background.  Scythes also keep a daily journal, which Shusterman shares entries from between each chapter.  The entries pose some of the moral questions that scythes have about their work and give an insight to the various teachers of Rowan and Citra's thoughts about their work.  I really enjoyed Citra and Rowan's characters as they were navigating their way through their classes and training in the use of poisons, weapons etc.  Especially when the story takes a turn and the two are pitted against each other in a competition where the winner must glean the other. Way to raise the stakes. There's even this computer, algorithmic "conscious" mind called The Thunderhead that is sort of like the cloud and holds all sorts of information.  Quite an entertaining and unique read.    

Favorite Line:  "I feel bad for you,"  said Citra.  "Even when you're food shopping, death is hiding right behind the milk."  


  1. This sounds a bit dark but really different. I can see why you would like it. Hope your kid liked it too.

    1. Others have described it as similar to The Hunger Games. I just enjoy suggesting books to the kiddo to see whether or not their is an interest in reading them. Then I go out and buys the one's from authors previously enjoyed. We can't wait for Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull!

  2. I loved this one. This was my first Shusterman book, and want to read more.

  3. This sounds really different and I am going to look for it to check it out. Thanks for sharing it with us. Always great to learn about new books. :)

  4. This was one of the last books I read in 2016. Shusterman has long been one of my favourite authors, and I liked the premise of this one.

  5. I've been curious about this one for a while. What a weird premise! But it sounds promising; I'll have to add it to my TBR.

    1. I hope you get a chance to read this, it's very good and an intriguing premise. I'm looking forward to the sequel.