Scythe by Neal Shusterman

scythe coverHumanity has conquered death and achieved immortality. Because disease, hunger, war, or crime no longer exist, a special sect called the Scythedom is created to control the population. They exist to kill, and are the only ones capable of ending a life. Teenagers Citra and Rowan become unwilling apprentices to a man named Scythe Faraday. Though they both initially struggle with the idea of becoming killers, they soon discover they must learn this new terrible skill set to keep themselves alive.

Initially, I struggled with this novel. To be honest, I’m never sure I entirely bought in to the utopia concept of immortality and the Thunderhead – the name for what “the cloud” becomes, an omniscient over-seer essentially in control of all life on Earth. But eventually I became so invested in the story of Citra and Rowan that it didn’t matter that I didn’t buy in to the Thunderhead, I still loved the story. The Scythedom, the professional assassins in charge of “gleaning” the population is becoming more corrupt with each passing year – as you can imagine would happen to a group with no oversight and members who live for several centuries. Citra and Rowan get caught up in this corruption, one on the side of the “new guard” who yearns for change and the permission to glean as many lives as they want in whatever manner they choose. The other ends up on the side of the “old guard” who would never consider killing for sport and understand the importance and solemnity of their jobs. The difference between these two groups and watching Citra and Rowan figure out how they fit in along with all the other struggles that go along with being a scythe was fascinating.

Of course there was a love story – its YA fiction, after all. But it didn’t overwhelm the story – it was almost an afterthought, and was written in a believable way that didn’t take away from either character, especially Citra the female leading lady. The supporting characters were nicely developed. I wanted to know more about Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie, two scythes who lived for centuries and had much more story to tell than we got in this book. Perhaps we will see more of them in the next book. We have a long wait though – the expected publication is 2018!

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Recommended for YA Sci-Fi fans, though at times you need a bit of a strong stomach. 4 stars out of 5. Pick this one up if you get a chance, the series is only going to get better from here.


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