Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: November 22, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Thou shalt kill.
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.
I was immediately drawn to Scythe as soon as I saw that cover. So gorgeous. After reading the synopsis, I was even more excited. I loved the way-too-short-lived show Dead Like Me that aired a few years back (a show about a group of dead themselves people who work as scythes by freeing the souls of people moments before their deaths). While this book really isn’t anything like the show, I enjoyed it immensely and am already counting down to the next book in the series.
Scythe is set in a futuristic world where all manner of death and illness has been cured. This world is controlled by an A.I. entity known as the Thunderhead (the cloud), with the exception of scythes, who work outside of the Thunderhead’s “jurisdiction”. Because death can now be “cured”, select people work as scythes--people whose job it is to murder a predetermined amount of people a year to keep the population from getting too large.
This book follows two main characters: Citra and Rowan. The two are both chosen by a longtime, respected scythe named Scythe Faraday to be his apprentices. This is unusual because a scythe usually only takes one apprentice under his/her wing at a time. Citra and Rowan are drawn to each other (of course they are), but scythes live solitary lives without companionship. Furthermore, only one of them will become a scythe after serving their apprenticeship, which makes them competition (a competition neither of them know if they really want to win).
I seriously loved this book. I liked both Citra and Rowan and were rooting for both to succeed. I liked the honorable Scythe Faraday and the way in which he held human life in such regard even as he was charged with taking it.
One of my favorite parts of this book is how each chapter ends with a snippet from different scythe's diaries. "Old school" scythes, like Scythe Faraday, accept their part in the world, but still feel the weight that murder brings. Other scythes, such as the main villain, Scythe Goddard, live as extravagantly as possible. Goddard kills with a small group of scythes who pull off the type of mass murder/massacres that are terrifying in today's climate (wiping out every person on an airplane, for example). It speaks to the type of evil that will always be in society--even one where all disease, hunger, and pain have been all but exterminated.
My favorite thing about this book is that the ending is satisfying. Yes, I want to know what happens next--and I really am so excited to get back to this world--but the ending isn’t frustrating at all. I loved how this installment wrapped up, and I didn’t feel at all cheated or anxious as I turned the last page.
*An arc was provided to me from the publisher in exchange of an honest review.