Wednesday, January 04, 2017


Scythe. Neal Shusterman. 2016. 448 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: We must by law, keep a record of the innocents we kill.

Premise/plot: Scythe by Neal Shusterman is a must read if a) you enjoy science fiction, b) you enjoy dystopian novels, c) you enjoy action-driven thrillers, d) you enjoy thought-provoking character-driven novels, e) you enjoy YA. The premise is simple: immortality has been achieved, for hundreds of years it has been so. To maintain balance and order, Scythes glean from the population. Death is not natural or inevitable, but random and almost statistical. Scythe Faraday takes on two apprentices: Rowan and Citra. But all is not as it seems. (When is anything like it seems in this kind of book?) Their training is life and death serious. Can they fight corruption together and win?

My thoughts: This one reminded me of Worthing Saga, Tuck Everlasting, and Star Wars...and dare I say Hunger Games? It doesn't copycat any one book really. More it tackles some great themes that many other books have explored throughout the years. For example, what makes life worth living? How would we change--for better or worse--if we could live forever? What would we value? Would it give us more choices, more freedom? Or would it rob us of what makes us human in the first place? What traits are admirable or desirable? Would it make us more or less moral?

This book doesn't truly tackle the question of is death a blessing or a curse. But it does give you two perspectives on how the Scythes work. One faction working almost like mad, giddy terrorists whose only thought is to kill as many as possible, whenever it's possible. The other faction being contemplative, compassionate, firm and resolute but responsible and retaining their humanity. The opposite of selfish and power-hungry.

I loved two things about this one. First, I loved the characters. Loved Scythe Curie, Scythe Faraday, Citra, and Rowan. Loved how we came to know the characters. All show and very little "tell." The story was compelling and unique. Yes the themes are universal, but the story is memorable and packed with action. Second, I loved the substance and depth behind this new world. The book is engaging and thought provoking. The ideas behind this thriller bring it to life.
"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." (388)

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

No comments: