Scythe

Scythe

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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Two teens must learn the "art of killing" in the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

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.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award--winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781442472426
Branch Call Number: YA FIC Shust
Characteristics: 433 pages ; 22 cm

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TEENREVIEWBOARD
Jun 20, 2018

I picked up this book, read a few chapters, and then accidentally returned it with the others before I could finish. Those few days of waiting to pick it up again were brutal. But I did finish it, and I have some things to say. Positive: I really liked how the plot picked up from the middle and arced nicely. The ending was phenomenal!! However, one thing I would have liked to see written better is the relationship between the two protagonists. I dislike how there wasn't any dialogue in the first bit but suddenly, the two are infatuated with one another. Kind of a problem I noticed with a lot of male authors, but maybe its the books I read... Still worth investing time in though! @Siri of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

c
claralex800
May 23, 2018

Other people (with three-star ratings) have already gone pretty deep into what I would have to say about this book (about the typos, there was a comma in the middle of a word in the copy I read) so I'll just summarize. It wasn't amazing, but I couldn't stop reading.
The other Neal Shusterman books I've read (the first two Unwind books) made me feel sick and angry. "Scythe" mostly made me feel sick, though it was also pretty funny (which is a weird combination, I know). The background characters, and the main characters sometimes, were ignorant and sycophantic, which accounts for the "sick" part. The funny came from some of the lines, especially one from Rowan's journal.
Several of the plot twists were predictable, and the head-hopping within a chapter was pretty annoying. There were plot holes that were filled in later (like dying by fire) and some that weren't (like why people are okay with being controlled by little robots in their blood--okay, maybe that isn't a plot hole, but you'd think that someone would have rebelled by now). Despite this, I wanted to know what happened, so I read to the end. And I will be reading "Thunderhead".

f
faithmurri99
May 17, 2018

I don't even know what to begin with. There's simultaneously too little and too much to say. I don't know if I'm disappointed or pleasantly surprised. I think I'm both, somehow.
I'm sure that not all copies are this way, that some proofreader realized the horrible mistake that had been made and fixed it, but my copy was littered with typos, incomplete sentences, and improper punctuation. It begs the question, especially considering the glaring worldbuilding inconsistencies and plot holes: was this book proofread at all before publication?
The first half of the book was so insanely boring and slow. So much could have been done in it, like clarifying the world or building the characters (like actually giving them any physical descriptions, for one thing), but instead it was used to force a completely unnecessary cringey love story in which 16-year-olds acted like they were 11 or 12 around each other.
The themes of this book were in direct conflict with one another. At times, there appeared to be a level of grey morality and ambiguity which I appreciated, because it opened the door for greater discussion about what constitutes right and wrong, and whether morality is subjective—but then Shusterman introduced the Thunderhead as a morally correct entity incapable of making mistakes or errors, which implies black and white morality. So which is it, Neal? Which idea are you pushing? Which theme are you attempting to advocate? The effects of perfection, social stagnation, immortality, the potential for decadence and moral disregard for human life, and government-sanctioned ritual killing on human nature were barely explored, if at all.
I absolutely loved the journal entries, though! Those were great!
The world was very poorly built in my opinion. It wasn't until more than halfway that any clear understanding of what exactly the Thunderhead was was explained, and even then, I'm still confused.
Also, it wasn't ever made clear how far familial relations extend for Scythe immunity. Sometimes it was those living in the household, other times it was immediate relatives.
The governmental system, law enforcement, and the nature of the human condition were totally vague the entire book. People were all seemingly completely content in their lives with an AI at the helm of the whole world. There was a running joke of how there's no government, but obviously, there is, since every single society requires one.
The Tonists felt tropey, contrived, and frankly, offensive. Religions likely wouldn't just disappear in the advent of immortality, and I really doubt the one that emerged would be about sound, especially given the world Shusterman created. I can think of many possible religions, and yet none were used.
As a sci-fi, it was just poorly done. He threw out some fancy mumbo-jumbo and expected me to accept that this is a sciencey world? I could barely remember it was in the future until he reminded me with words like "chickenoid" and "Israebia".
Citrus: Citra was really annoying. When she wasn't being a brick, she was a hollow log. She was self-centred and petty.
Rowan Whitethorn: I actually really liked Rowan. It was basically solely his scenes that drove me to finish the book.
Obi Wan Kenobi: Good ole Scythe Faraday was somewhat of a wooden plank, but he was pleasant and I liked him.
The Dark Lord: Goddard was very tropey, and occasionally very interesting, but ultimately just tropey.
(I tried to think of more funny alternative names, but I couldn't come up with any)
Curie: Her physical description was literally just the leader of District 13 in the Mockingjay movie. She was interesting and I liked her.
Volta: I really liked Volta. He was very thought-provoking and I appreciated him.
Overall, I liked it enough, and I'll probably read the sequel, but I'm so disappointed in all the missed opportunities.

n
NedSu
May 16, 2018

Truly, a very good book. Although it is written for an YA audience, older readers will enjoy it perhaps even more, as the names of the scythes are all interesting. Some inferences to the Age of Mortality may escape the younger readers. All of this is done without sacrificing the plot or the thoughtful questions the premise of the novel raise. Very well done, and I am looking forward to the next novel in the series. A sampling of reviews gives the second book even higher marks than the first one.

Enjoy!

katbee Apr 27, 2018

The further I made into this book, the more I was hooked by a sense of morbid curiosity. This book was different from everything else I have read. A future world that has turned into a utopia rather than dystopia seems rare. I think Neal Shusterman did a great job with lots of good twists. However, everything wrapped up so well, it could be a standalone novel. I'm not sure if I will read the sequel. If I do read it, I'm sure it will have some more good twists.

s
susan_findlay
Apr 06, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. At its heart, it was a book about human nature - particularly power and corruption (because the scythes truly have absolute power in this world - even if they are supposed to self-regulate).

People tend to think of prolonging life as a good thing. But, at some point, if people were able to live forever but still wanted to have children, overpopulation would be an issue. This book addresses one way to handle that - with all its pros and cons.

I thought that the characters were well developed except for the romance - which felt throwaway and unearned. Basically, the two lead characters are of opposite gender so they fall in love. But it's mostly glossed over that so that you aren't actually invested in the relationship at all. And is it even really a relationship?

Barring that, this is an excellent book addressing an interesting scenario in a compelling way. Highly recommend.

h
hannmsha
Mar 21, 2018

Well, I must confess myself slightly disappointed. Only slightly, this is still a 3-star book, mind you. For all the hype this book got I really did go in expecting a lot more than I got, which may have contributed to this book's downfall.

The writing is okay. It's fine, it's whatever. It's not particularly good in any way but I have no qualms with the writing.

The concept is fantastic. Totally up my alley in every possible way, but the delivery did fall a bit flat, unfortunately. The worldbuilding was pretty good, but I swear I found so many holes in the world that it drove me up the wall. I spent a lot of the time reading this book thinking about all the loopholes and little rifts that didn't quite add up in this world that Shusterman made. Not really what I like to be thinking about when reading a book.

As for the characters, they were alright. Scythe Curie is a gem, and I do like Citra and Scythe Faraday of course but overall the characters just weren't what I needed them to be. I felt no particular emotional investment in anyone, and thus didn't much care for anything that happened. I do have to say that I really appreciate strong female characters. I really did like that.

I found myself liking the plot twists well enough, and I did like the ending. I will definitely be reading the next book, and am very curious to see what happens.

LoganLib_Kirra Jan 31, 2018

In the future people no longer fear death anymore with the ability to revive anyone and the elimination of disease, war and crime. So how do people’s lives come to an end? By the hand of a professional reaper, a scythe.

This book was one of the most fascinating, thrilling and surprising stories I've ever read with a constantly changing dynamic and quick witted characters. Neal Shusterman presents Young Adult fiction at its finest with great character development and suspenseful writing that always packs a punch and holds you captivated on each page.

I was constantly surprised by the events in this book and midway through I thought something totally predictable had happened but it was just a ploy to trick me and it surprised me again! It was also extremely detailed and scary at times with some of the characters so there was a fantastic parallel between the good and fair characters.

This is mind-blowing, don't care what other ratings say. This is beautifully written and is a must read. Concept makes sense and characters are designed with skill and make sense

JCLChrisK Nov 30, 2017

I could see how someone might label this future-set book a dystopia, except I don't think that's accurate since this world's utopia is still pretty utopian. Society is functioning, no one's particularly oppressed, and everyone's basically content. There's one small group that functions outside the bounds of society, though, a fairly ascetic group with a special, practical purpose. It's in this realm that some cracks are beginning to show, and where the bulk of the story takes place.

A story that is equally adventurous and thoughtful. It's a meditation on mortality given shape and adrenaline through the lives of its two teen protagonists.

Scythe is a consideration of the future; of, at least, one of the forms it might take. Immortality and bliss have been achieved. Humans can be revived from all but the most extreme deaths. Pain and emotions are moderated. Illness is unheard of. Aging can be erased with a procedure on a whim at any time. No one wants for anything.

Divinity has been achieved in the form of the Thunderhead, a worldwide artificial intelligence evolved from the Cloud. It is benevolent and oversees the well-being of humanity and the planet. One part of ensuring the Thunderhead's benevolence is its protocol of life--all human deaths shall be reversed; none shall be caused. However, humans continue to multiply while the planet's habitable space remains finite. Thus, a quandary.

The solution is the scythes. A group of people removed from society and cut off from the Thunderhead to live under their own rules, with the purpose of randomly inserting a measure of death into the system. They "glean" the population to keep humanity's size manageable. While not quite a religious order, they live by a very strict set of rules to keep their motives and actions pure.

Even such rigidly defined strictures leave wiggle room and space for interpretation, though. So when Citra and Rowen are selected by a scythe to train as his apprentices, they learn about the various philosophies, factions, and political maneuverings that exists within the Scythedom. And, as one might expect from an order tasked with death, maneuverings can be deadly. They go into their year of preparation knowing they'll emerge as different people, but nothing can prepare them for all of the situations that will arise or challenges they'll face or just how changed they'll be by the end of it. Or how the Scythedom will change with them.

Not quite a dystopia, still fairly utopian, but subject to human nature all the same. And stories of human nature in action are usually the most captivating. This is one of the better ones.

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mikeguylol
May 17, 2018

mikeguylol thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

LoganLib_Kirra Feb 04, 2018

LoganLib_Kirra thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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sleepybookworm
Apr 06, 2017

sleepybookworm thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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white_dove_454
Jan 22, 2017

white_dove_454 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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black_pony_62
Jan 15, 2017

black_pony_62 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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JCLChrisK Nov 30, 2017

No one rages against the system anymore. At most, they just glare at it a bit.

s
shayshortt
Apr 26, 2017

She wanted to believe she wasn’t capable of it. She desperately wanted to believe she wasn’t Scythe material. It was the first time in her life that she aspired to fail.

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shayshortt
Apr 26, 2017

It has been three hundred years since humanity turned the corner, leaving behind the Age of Mortality. With the arrival of infinite computing power, a benevolent AI known as the Thunderhead emerged to rule this new deathless society. But although accidental death is a thing of the past, humanity still lives on a single finite planet, and so population growth must be limited. This task was deemed to require a human conscience, not to be entrusted to a computer, and so the Scythedom was born. Citra and Rowan have been selected to apprentice to Scythe Faraday, a job that neither of them wants. But there is corruption at the heart of Scythedom, and the Thunderhead is powerless to intervene. Reform must come from within.

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