Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)
The book takes place in the future where there are no deaths from disease, accidents, or murder. Everyone self-heals if they are injured. They go to the revival center, or the nanites in their bodies simply block the pain and heal them. There are no more diseases. It seems like the perfect future. But….if no one dies and the population keeps growing, what next? Society has taken care of that problem...the Scythe. Scythes are a special group of people whose job it is to thin the population. They do this by “gleaning” (killing) individuals at random -- “...but our founders saw fit to call us scythes -- because we are weapons in mankind's immortal hand…” Scythes live in their own special groups governing themselves. They do not have to follow society’s laws. They are almost “god-like”. This book features two apprentice Scythes: Rowan and Crita. They are introduced into the world of Scythes as students. They must go through intense mental and physical training, watch gleanings, talk to the surviving family, and choose sides in the turmoil in the Scythedom. This is very well written. In fact, it is a Printz Honor title. The story has several plot twists that I never saw coming. Schusterman does an excellent job with his character development. It is unique how the author exposes the characters to the reader, making them fearless and vulnerable at the same time. I had my favorite characters and ones I wish I could glean. This book is very violent and has lots of death. Some of the gleaning scenes are graphic. I will definitely be waiting for Thunderhead, the second book in the Arc of the Scythes series. release. As a teacher, I feel Scythe has a lot of possibilities for classroom use at the middle and high school levels. It is a book that would be great for discussions: ethics of any kind of killing; value of one life over another; corruption of people in power; and even, Are you born to do a job or do you become the person you are because of your job? -It could be a book that is used to discuss friendships: how do they begin? How they evolve? Are friendships always two sided? What would you do for your friends? Scythe could also be used in cross-curricular activities. Science students could research all the advancements in medicine and safety that prolong life. Math students could study statistics on causes of death in today’s society, and use this information to “help” a Scythe decide which person he should glean.
This is by far one of my favorite books that I've ever read. The take of a utopia instead of a dystopia was refreshing and I felt that I could connect and turly care for all of the protagonists. I 100% recommend this book to everyone who likes a good book.
I resisted reading Scythe because I didn't think it could live up to my high expectation after Unwind, but Neal Shusterman has done it again! Scythe is a great story of what might ordinarily would be the unimaginable, but Neal Shusterman is a master at convincing the reader that these scenarios could indeed happen in a society like ours given a little more time, along with some continued advancement of technology.
I love the political depth within the story as well, but as always with this author, fear not if politics aren't your jam, you will easily read through it and probably miss the indication completely and just take it in as the good story that it is.
I adored how Shusterman tackled this problem.
“I have become the monster of monsters, he thought as he watched it all burn. The butcher of lions. The executioner of eagles.”
I wasn't entirely sure what the plot of the story was gonna be like when I started - just that it had something to do with a person in a grim reaper suit. And boy was I delightfully surprised by how much I truly engaged with the entire concept.
The world-building in this book is a big big winner for me. I mean I just want the sequel to understand more of the world more than anything.
It is pretty classic dystopia - we have loads of tech; humans aren't really 'developing' anymore, rather we are just 'being'; everyone lives to an age at which they have stopped counting. But the key of the story is how we manage this lifestyle. Because people aren't dying. Instead, we need to deal with the overpopulation.
Hence we have Scythes, people whose entire life is now dedicating to culling the population to something reasonable.
More than the Sycthedom concept, is the idea of the Thunderhead: basically a big AI cloud that now manages humans in a much better way than humans ever could. No more politics or police forces etc. It's all managed by the Thunderhead. Despite all the books that focus on AI that I've read, I've never come across something quite like this. Hence, I am super keen for the sequel (which is called Thunderhead).
“The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government.”
Citra and Rowan are the main characters - two adolescents who have been chosen by Scythe Faraday to begin a scythe apprenticeship. They begin a journey where they must confront their own ideas and moral on human life in a world where being mortal is only a historic tale.
While I did not mind the MCs, they were not the most engaging characters for me in the book. Understandably, the way they viewed the entire concept of the Scythedom was narrow, compared to their ancient mentors. Overall I found their character development lacking and the romance (?) was unnecessary and very poorly done.
For me, however, the other characters made up for this however. Scythe Faraday is an incredibly complex character and forces the MCs and the reader to contemplate many confronting notions of humanity and mortality.
Scythe Curie was an absolute gem. Never in a book have I come across a character more elegant, fierce, steadfast, aware, and intelligent as this character. I truly admire the craftsmanship of this character and think everyone should read the book solely to meet her.
Even Scythe Goddard is interesting and raises a lot of questions as you get to know more of his thoughts and moral grounds.
“I think all young women are cursed with a streak of unrelenting foolishness, and all young men are cursed with a streak of absolute stupidity."
At times the story was slower than I typically enjoyed, but I loved the moral questioning in this book so much that it didn't bother me all that much. I adore everything this book offered and can not wait to read the sequel.
My biggest question though. Who is wearing the red scythe robe on the cover?
More reviewshref> | Twitterhref> | Pinteresthref> | Books gnaw at me from around the edges of my life, demanding more time and attention. I am always left hungry. (P. Paul)