Scythe – Neal Shusterman

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Scythe by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

In this sci-fi world, death has been conquered. There is no longer need for fear as all illnesses have been cured and there is a way to be resurrected if you experience an untimely death. The Thunderhead, a perfect and benevolent A.I. has seen to that. It has control over everything, except the Scythedom. In this world, there are Scythes – those who have been chosen and trained as the purveyors of death and they are the only ones who are to end lives. It is the one area in with the Thunderhead cannot interfere, for better or worse.

As this story does revolve around what Scythes do, I will just offer a trigger warning for death/suicide/murder.

The concept of the book is absolutely fascinating and I immediately fell in love. When we enter this world of science fiction, we are introduced to two main characters: Citra and Rowan. Neither has any desire to become a Scythe, but failure is not an option. I really enjoyed getting to know the two characters over the course of the novel. They’re thrust into a situation that they never expected to be in and handle it differently. At first, Scythes seem like indomitable and unscrutable figures but as we get to know Scythe Faraday that changes. I really liked how he was developed so that as a reader, you began to understand the necessity of the job and the people behind it.

Rowan has always been in the middle. The forgettable son and the mediocre student, never doing enough or too little to stand out. I really enjoyed his journey and evolution as it was more tumultuous than Citra’s. He was given more to cope with and struggled to figure out who he wanted to be. He was able to develop and I felt that he was a well-fleshed out character. Citra is both intelligent and strong-willed, although overall I felt that she had an easier transition than Rowan it was not truly easy in any sense. She is less sure of herself than Rowan but more likely to try to hide it and use her competitive nature to mask her insecurities. I found both of the characters to be relatable and you become invested in their journeys.

The world building was also very well done. Although the story takes place less than 250 years in the future, there are still major differences from our modern world. Each aspect was well explained and made sense as a progression of civilization. I really enjoyed the small excerpts from various Scythes’ journals that were included in the book between chapters. It allowed for character and world development that we would not have received otherwise.

This book immediately drew me in and I finished it in less than one day. I actually put it down when I was near the end because I needed to go to my library to make sure no one picked up Thunderhead before I did so that I could continue with the story. This is a very plot-based book and keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times. I am completely enamored by it and cannot wait to see what the author has in store for us.

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