Scythe – Neal Shusterman


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. Add it on Goodreads.

My Thoughts

Rating: ★★★★★

I honestly bought this book on a whim, not really knowing what it was about. It just piqued my interest and ten seconds later the order was made. When I started reading it the next day I could already tell that it was one of the best ten-second decisions I ever made when it comes to buying books! Now that I have finished it, I can whole-heartedly confirm that thought. It has been such a long time since I read a YA novel that really hooked me like Scythe did from the first sentence I read! It was absolutely phenomenal!

First of all, the writing was exceptional! The narrative coupled with the journal entries after every chapter made for a unique way of reading this book and discovering how their world and way of life came into existence, as it wasn’t always that way. Our present world stands at the core of the futuristic version this story presents and it was fascinating to learn how our reality progressed into the reality of this book. Is it a possible future for us? Who knows, the way Neal Shusterman wrote Scythe and build up the world throughout the story bit by bit certainly made me believe it could happen. It was just so perfectly balanced. You never got too much information at once and never too little as to not being able to understand the story.

“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.”

The story was extremely well-executed! It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time! It takes a little while for the story to pick up in the beginning and personally I did not have a problem with that as it was necessary to set up the story so it can be appreciated more later on. I understand that a somewhat slow start may be a bit disappointing but trust me it is totally worth it! The story has so many unexpected twists and turns! Every time I thought I knew where the story was going it would go into a completely different direction from what I anticipated!

Scythe revolves around a theme of death set in a world where mortality is an unknown phenomenon. Humans have become immortal but still some of them need to die in order to control the population. This poses some really thought-provoking questions about life without an ending but also the morality of ending lives for the greater good, who should do it and why it should or shouldn’t be done, making this such a complex and intricate story with an intriguing philosophical edge. Having finished it, I still can’t let go of these questions and I probably won’t be able to for a while. Because death is such a huge theme in this book, there are some unsettling scenes. Unsettling would be an understatement, alarming and distressing comes closer to how they made me feel. So, a warning: there are some pretty brutal and gruesome scenes in this book such as mass murder and suicide which should be kept in mind when you are deciding whether or not to read this book.

 “Everyone is guilty of something, and everyone still harbors a memory of childhood innocence, no matter how many layers of life wrap around it. Humanity is innocent; humanity is guilty, and both states are undeniably true.”

Another great aspect of this book are the characters and especially the two main characters, Rowan and Citra. Both of them are extremely well-written. They have so much depth and you can understand where they’re coming from, why they make certain decision and act in a certain way. The both go through a lot of character development and while it isn’t always necessarily good, especially Rowan as he develops in a somewhat morally grey way, it is very realistic and understandable from the readers perspective. What I love most about these two characters is the fact that they aren’t defined by their love for each other which happens in some other YA books I have read. The love between Rowan and Citra is very subtle, it grows slowly and isn’t their sole motivator. They still go their separate ways and don’t blindly trust one another after everything they go through both together and separately. I think this is a very real way of depicting a growing and developing relationship between two people which makes me love this book even more!

“Hope in the shadow of fear is the world’s most powerful motivator.”

So, in short, Scythe tells us a fascinating and gripping story revolving around intriguing themes such as death and immortality in a unique and original way. It’s two main characters really bring the story to life and the writing style and world-building create a fascinating and realistic futuristic setting. Not only that, it also introduces though-provoking and almost philosophical ideas and questions that will certainly keep your mind busy long after you have finished reading it! It may have a somewhat slow start but you should not let that keep you from reading this phenomenal book!


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