Scythe by Neal Shusterman | Book Review

Rating: 8/10

Format: Paper Book – Library

Buy it Here: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)

My man Neal Shusterman knows how to write a disturbing book, yes he does. This doesn’t get anywhere near the level that Unwind did (I straight up dare you to write a book as disturbing as Unwind,  but don’t tell me if you do because that would be truly horrifying), but his handling of so much death and corruption made this a book I didn’t want to put down. I confess my poor Sweetheart was trying to tell me about his day and it took me a bit to close this book and listen to him with the attention he deserves.

Citra and Rowan are separately recognized by the Honorable Scythe Faraday for their compassion in the face of Gleaning. In a future where everyone could live forever, the population must be controlled. Most of the world is controlled by a massive AI called the thunderhead. The thunderhead is elegant and efficient in most things, but in its beginning, society decided that death should be handled by humans: the Scythedom.

The Scythedom is meant to be fair, ascetic, solemn. For Scythe Faraday and his two apprentices, the responsibility to choose and execute someone is a heavy weight. For other Scythes, it’s a game; a horrible hunt.

Citra and Rowan are both characters I could absolutely be friends with. (With whom I could absolutely be friends? I know that’s grammatically correct, but it’s my book diary). I enjoyed following both of them through their training and tribulations. I hated the idea of them being separated, and hated even more the idea of one of them having to glean the other. In the case of many other YA authors, I wouldn’t have worried. Most authors don’t kill of their protagonists. Shusterman? Yeah, I was worried. I liked Citra and Rowan.

I would be hard-pressed, though, to tell you about specific differences in their personalities. Their romance, if it can be called that, makes sense only in that they’re both deeply good people made to make the same difficult choices. I appreciated that their relationship never became physical; it’s such a physical book. I’m not sure exactly what that implies, but I feel like it’s important. I’ll let you all know if something strikes me about it.

In all honesty, the most compelling portions of the book were snippets of the journals of the scythes. Scythes Faraday, Curie, and Goddard come across as the true protagonists of the story, even as we follow the apprentices. The excerpts provide fascinating commentary on the concepts of life, death, and responsibility. I also deeply enjoyed Citra’s one conversation with the Thunderhead. The next book is called Thunderhead so I can only hope we’ll get more of that experience next time!

I enjoyed this book all the way through, but the last few pages were really what sold me. It sets up the rest of the series so beautifully. I look forward to reading it when it comes out!

The last thing I have to add to this review is the unfortunate truth that there were at least three glaring typos in this book. It was so startling to find a comma in the middle of a word, for example, it completely took me out of the experience.  Quite frankly, I am torn whether to give this book a lower objective score because of the sloppy editing. In the end I decided not to, since this book definitely doesn’t fall into the same category as a messy self-published volume. All the same, I thought I should point it out!

Subjective Hearts: ♥♥♥♥ 4/5

Objective Hearts: ♥♥♥♥ 4/5


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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