Scythe // Neal Shusterman
“Love remains mortal”
Actual Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐
Synopsis [From Goodreads]:
Thou shalt kill
A world with no hunger
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 muster the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequences of failure could mean losing their own.
In a world where nobody wants for anything, there is no pain or suffering and society has reached its ‘peak’ leaving everyone to simply just exist, it is up to Scythe’s to control overpopulation by killing or “gleaning”. I picked up Scythe for something like six dollars and I honestly expected it to be nothing more than nice quick read, instead I feel absolutely in love with it.
The basic premise of Scythe is what intrigued me the most, I’ve never really read anything like this before so I was properly shocked by all its twists and turns; it didn’t take me long to get sucked right into the story because it was so entertaining, I kept telling myself “just one more chapter” because I didn’t want to stop reading. Scythe follows two teenagers, Citra and Rowan, as they become apprentices to a Scythe – this books version of the grim reaper, they control overpopulation by gleaning semi-randomly selected people because natural death no longer exists. Citra and Rowan essentially spend all their time learning how and why to kill. As well I found the plot itself to be really nicely paced and I never found myself getting truly bored, I think it’s quite snappy and while there was one twist that I kind of called I was thoroughly twisted by the rest of them. Scythe also doesn’t shy away from blood and the whole killing thing, while not overly graphic and in fact I think it could use a little more blood but there are definitely some INTENSE scenes in the novel. The one that had my heart pounding wasn’t even a violent one but one where Curie was yelling at Citra.
I think Scythe has some really nice and well-written characters, both Citra and Rowan are quite fleshed out and while both of them have interesting paths I have to say that I enjoyed Citra’s story more. Citra was the character that I liked from the first page where I only really started to enjoy Rowan, and where it looks like his character is going, near the end. By the middle of the book I was prepared to start eye-rolling over Rowan because I just did not like the whole little band of murderer’s thing at all but his character does not at all go where I figured it would and his story definitely redeems itself by the end. I really loved Scythe’s Curie and Faraday, their personalities and backstory which each other slowly slip out over time and I found them both to be incredibly interesting – I wouldn’t even mind an entire book about them. Scythe is intermingled with journal entries written mostly by Curie and Faraday (and later Goddard) that provide so much hidden context and meaning in their inner workings. I think Curie is my favourite character of the novel because I found her life as a Scythe and her thoughts on death/gleaning the most interesting and she tended to lean a little more towards the grey side of things.
There is a little bit of a romance in Scythe but it doesn’t take over the novel at all, it’s very backburner and I actually frequently forgot there even was a romance because it’s hardly brought up after the very beginning. I actually had to remind myself that there was supposed to be a romance between Citra and Rowan at the end of the book because I was like “what do you mean you love each other you’re friends??”, I’m not MAD about the romance itself because again it doesn’t take over the main show (death) but I don’t really see the chemistry between their characters. I think they make much better friends and to me the “I love you” at the end seems like it comes from a place of friendship.
What I didn’t like about Scythe was that all of the characters were very black or white, I think there’s so much room for morally grey characters and ambiguity in a novel like this but Scythe just doesn’t take advantage of it; all of the characters were very plainly Good vs. Evil. I also didn’t like Goddard as a villain at all because I found him to be really cliché, I honestly wasn’t expecting a villain because to me there was enough main conflict with the whole “one of you will have to die in the end” thing. I just found myself eye-rolling a lot at Goddard and his murder squad.
In light of not trying to gush TOO much, I’ll end off with saying that Scythe is probably one of my favourite reads this year because I just found it to be so fresh and entertaining. It’s not a perfect novel and there’s definitely tropes/twists that are cliché but at the end of the day I just loved it.
| Simon & Schuster | Published November 22nd 2016 | 435 Pages | Goodreads |