Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR
Neal Shusterman’s novel, Scythe, is the science fiction book we’ve been waiting for, showing everything from pain and sadness to pure excitement.
In this world, humans have worked for centuries on perfecting life, now only dying when chosen by an organization called the Scythedom. A scythe has to glean (to kill) a certain amount of people a year to keep the population from exploding. This is all controlled by the all-mighty Thunderhead who sees and knows everything. However, Thunderhead is not allowed to be in contact with scythes or have anything to do with them. Faraday was a very respected and solemn scythe. He anonymously invited two teenage apprentices–Citra and Rowan–to train to become scythes themselves Citra was too eager to deny the invitation; she was a goal-driven girl who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. Whereas Rowan was the “lettuce-kid”–nothing exciting ever happened to him unless it was sure to attract the wrong kind of attention. Now training under one of the most respected scythes was still scary and weird. The two trained alongside each other for months learning all kinds of killing techniques
The story is captivating and intriguing, with powerful lines like:
“A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death.”
Somehow humanity has conquered those things, but the book doesn’t tell us what year it is, so we have no idea how distant in the future it is. The time frame is mentioned as “immortal age”. Hospitals and ambu-drones (flying ambulances) can revive you within a day or two depending on how severe your damages are. The only war is the one between the scythes, but remember the Thunderhead can’t change that.
Neal Shusterman did one thing that all readers love: he put suspense and agony all throughout but not so much that it became ineffective. There were highs and lows of all different characters at the same time, making the book much more realistic and relatable. For example, when scythe Faraday made Rowan choose the next person he will glean, Rowan could not decide because he felt horrible. If you felt bad for Rowan then you are able to connect with him, and the same goes for Faraday. Both Rowan and Citra seemed to become more respected throughout the book angering other characters like the antagonist Scythe Goddard.
Throughout, it expresses important moral themes and the importance of good or bad judgement. At conclaves Citra and Rowan want to help each other and be what we would think is a genuine and good person, but they know that is against the rules. These parts in the book show how special they really are, and what kind of world it should be instead of what it is. Many scythes rebel to try and make the killings less gruesome. Both Rowan and Citra met bad people along the way to becoming a scythe, always thinking of their mentor’s ability to decide how to deal with the situation.
Overall, it was a fun book to read, bringing everything from pain and anguish to pure excitement, showing different aspects of life as we know it and introducing incredible new ones like the feeling of losing someone over a percentage. The characters mature and learn from their past mistakes only making them stronger and wiser throughout. The idea of the book has been done before, but that does not change the fact it is a well-written novel.
Neal Shusterman recently released a sequel called “Thunderhead” on January 9th 2018.