I liked Scythe well enough as an adult and think it’s a fantastic book for teen readers. There are lots of good themes, ideas, and what-ifs for book club fodder and there’s a discussion and classroom guide in the back of my edition! Honestly I think I’d have gotten more out of this as a teen than I did, say, trying to understand Brave New World at the time, so that’s something teachers are hopefully looking at.
In one sentence: one of the more unique and interesting YA books I’ve ever read
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Scythe
- Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
- Author: Neal Shusterman
- Publisher & Release: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – November 2016
- Length: 448 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⚡ for anyone interested
Here’s the synopsis via 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
I don’t read many utopian sci-fi books and was definitely happy with this one. What the heck would the consequences be when humans are immortal, there’s no government anymore, everyone is provided for, and life is one big neverending run of mediocrity?
There are so many great themes and ideas for teens to consider in these books. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a world like this? Is the Thunderhead better than individual governments? How do you feel about turning back the clock?
Is cultivated random death better than the old method of natural selection? My favorite question is, without suffering, how does one’s life and the world at large change?
I tried hard to poke holes in the world building as well and it seemed extremely solid. There were lots of sci-fi and utopian ideas but not enough technology and science to bog down the book. It was more there in ideology. I was thinking quite a.bit about cultivated random death vs old-school random death, is one or the other really better? The whole idea of disease, accidents, crime, government being rendered obsolete was fascinating.
I think this is a unique plot with a thoughtful look at humanity. The scythes hold a LOT of power, and therefore of course is the source of corruption as well. Seeing how different scythes operate, the good and bad, new vs old, and how they essentially preserve the age of mortality was interesting to me.
The characters all had their unique aspects too. It’s rare that a book is equally plot and character driven. Rowan and Citra didn’t want to be scythes, therefore they are perfect candidates – but how do you ease people into taking life? How do they react to this? I liked their different strengths and weaknesses, and how each of their famous Scythe mentors had different approaches to the gleaning
My only negative thought was how the two teens ended up romantically inclined towards each other. I get that the author thinks people “expect” “romance” but the characters had zero, absolutely NO chemistry, and nothing except proximity. This should have been a friendship, as proximity romances are stupid and the characters only had one brief physical encounter. I honestly don’t think that teens want or expect romance in every book and it was so obviously forced into Scythe. 1/2 star docked for the author being silly
Overall: I thoroughly recommend this one and consider it a wonderfully appropriate teen read too. Confirmed by the fact that it won a Printz honor, it definitely reads as a standalone but I’ll be reading book 2 asap. This could easily be read and discussed in schools. The language was clean, the worst anyone did was kiss, once, and while there was violence and death it was usually well compensated.
Likely one of my lifetime top 10 YA reads but I would have to think out a list to confirm
Want more? I reviewed book two, Thunderhead!