Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes
In the world of Neal Shusterman’s Scythe (Arc of a Scythe), humanity may have defeated death, but they are far from defeating immorality.
Why you should read it: Scythe takes place in a utopia precariously tipping toward dystopia. Much like Shusterman’s Unwind, it forces the reader to examine their stance on a pressing dilemma relevant to today’s world.
Our protagonists, Citra and Rowan, are teenagers who find themselves in the favor of H.S. Faraday, a renowned Scythe who holds himself to the highest moral standard. In a world where death has been eliminated and it’s easy to “turn the corner” and be young again, Scythes protect the world against overpopulation. They carry a heavy burden, though: they are expected to kill, and kill indiscriminately, at over 200 people every year. There are no days off from this reality. They wear heavy Scythe’s robes, wear a glimmering ring connected to their infinite database, and wear the judgement and fear of a society that created them.
The two teenagers find themselves apprentices where only one of them can succeed to take the robes, the ring, and choose their new name. Neither one of them wants it, but failing isn’t a viable option, either. Morality shows itself to have shades, not necessarily of grey, but of the rainbow throughout the novel.
Not every Scythe has the same kind of moral code as Scythe Faraday. Some Scythes are all but revered for their compassion, their quiet reassurances and quick hand, while others are legends for their acts of nothing short of terrorism. Neither is illegal, but Scythes from both sides of the metaphorical aisle eye each other with judgement and suspicion.
With their Conclaves, meetings occurring with the express purpose to honor the dead and discuss business, feeling more like the pissing contest that Congress is known to turn into, there is definitely a political undertone to this novel. Politicians face a daily struggle to represent their constituents and be efficient. Scythes have a similar responsibility. They must do what they believe is best for the Scythedom and for humanity while also balancing their already-precarious morals. Scythe is a book that turns an idea that feels like a hypothetical scenario tossed about over drinks into a terrifying reality. This is, unsurprisingly, much like typical American politics.
I devoured this book over the course of one day. I felt the pacing was phenomenal, but it is worth mentioning that it definitely reads as the typical apprenticeship novel. There are just enough twists to keep readers guessing, but upon a second reading, it’s easy to find the support for them littered throughout the pages for the careful eye.
Would I suggest this book? Absolutely.
Did you like this post? Do you want to read more? Consider stopping by Amazon and picking up a copy of Nightfall, the first book of the Starwalkers Series by Christy Harkins.
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