Scythe ~ by Neal Shusterman
2016 ~ Simon & Schuster
435 pages ~ Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian/Utopian, Young Adult
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all these 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 consequences of failure could mean losing their own.
Scythe is a fast-paced, unpredictable, and suspenseful novel from start to finish! The concept is so unique! Mid-Merica is a seemingly perfect society. They’ve achieved things that our society only dreams of. However, the world of the Scythedom is fractured, corrupt, and fraught with political intrigue.
A few elements that I loved:
The discussion of Art: Because this world knows nothing of pain, loss, war or suffering, the art from the mortal world (our world) holds no meaning. Prior to their training, Scythe Faraday takes Citra and Rowan to visit a museum. When viewing mortal art Citra states: “There was a coherence to the work, as if it had been painted by the same soul, if not the same hand. Some works had a religious theme, others were portraits, and others simply captured the elusive light of daily life with a vibrancy that was missing in post-mortal art. Longing and elation, anguish and joy- they were all there, sometimes commingling in the same canvas. It was in some ways unsettling, but compelling as well.”
Citra and Rowan needed to understand this mortal art because, as Scythes, this pain would be their reality. This was a really unique way of praising art and what it offers society, while also showing what would be lost in a “perfect world.”
Scythedom fracture of the Old Guard-Scythes (traditional) & Scythe Goddard and his followers (using the Scythedom to control). This rift in the Scythedom felt eerily relevant and helped with the believability of the world. Even in a world with no pain or lose, corruption still exists. Something that was once scared, in this case, the duties of a Scythe, becomes a means of seizing power.
“We must always be vigilant because power comes infected with the only disease left to us: the virus of human nature.”
Society’s praise of the Scythes: this was another really fascinating element of this novel. It reminded me of the way our society sometimes praises people and things that are feeble and often dangerous. Scythe Curry states, “I am disturbed by those who revere us far more than those who disdain us far more than those who disdain us. Too many put us on a pedestal. Too many long to be one of us, knowing that they can never be, makes their longing even greater; for all scythes are apprenticed in their youth. It is either naivete in thinking that we are somehow of a higher order of being, or it is the product of a depraved heart- for who but the depraved would revel in the taking of life?”
Only negative: (slight spoiler below)
The relationship. I liked the idea of Citra and Rowan together and I thought that their love for each other added another interesting complication to the story. However, at times it felt like Shusterman was trying not to make their relationship a major focus, so their moments together come off really awkward. (Their first kiss…seriously! What was that?) I wish their relationship would have either played a more important role or gone away altogether.
I loved this world, these characters, and the layers of meaning throughout the novel. I can’t wait to see where this story goes next! I would recommend this to both teens and adults who enjoy Science Fiction, and dystopian/utopian novels. If you’ve read it, or plan to, let me know!
For more information on Neal Shusterman and his books, check him out in Goodreads
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