Scythe - Neal Shusterman

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.

First of all, let me say that I just adore this cover. The tans and reds are beautiful and just the right combo to show the mood in the pages to follow (i.e. brilliant, violent, and captivating.)

I never know where Shusterman is going to go with a book, and this was no exception. Would this book focus on the deaths and the gore? Would it focus on the idea of technology and futuristic sci-fi stuff? Would it focus on the idea of immortality and its discontents? It turns out that it's the latter, and though it's explored over the course of a short period of time, the examination of the many consequences of immortality is great.

I am a fan of books that take a concept and explore them ad absurdum, and in this case both technology and the concept of immortality are explored in just this way. Human beings who are unable to die, are in a sense doomed to an existence of boredom, or at least a lack of the full breadth of life experience that being mortal allows for. In fact, humanity has come to the conclusion that death should not even be allowed. People are revived from death no matter the consequence, except of course, for the Scythes, who live under a whole other set of rules (ten commandments, in fact). This removes the ability to make one's own choices about when life has gone on too long, and actually brings up a lot of similar arguments regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The two protagonists of the story, Citra and Rowan, are wonderfully strong and complex, being pitted against each other for much of the novel after a particularly unsavoury Scythe decides to change a few rules and regulations. The competition combined with a series of lies and deceptions will keep readers guessing at the true intentions of a number of characters from chapter to chapter.

As usual, Shusterman's writing is strong and nuanced, giving readers not only excitement and mystery, but solid character development as well. I must applaud Shusterman on this latest intriguing work. 


(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out Nov. 22, 2016)


  1. The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government. Back in the days when the world’s digital network was called “the cloud,” people thought giving too much power to an artificial intelligence would be a very bad idea. Cautionary tales abounded in every form of media. The machines were always the enemy. But then the cloud evolved into the Thunderhead, sparking with consciousness, or at least a remarkable facsimile. In stark contrast to people’s fears, the Thunderhead did not seize power. Instead, it was people who came to realize that it was far better suited to run things than politicians.
    Great book, loved it!
    My Review:


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