Neal Shusterman’s Scythe (2017) introduces the reader to a world where humanity has figured out how to live forever. The leaders of society have instituted a method through which they can manage the Earth’s resources. They have appointed certain individuals as Scythes. The job of this elite group of individuals consists in killing (they don’t call it killing; they call it gleaning) people so that the human race can survive as a whole. The story centers around two young apprentices, Citra and Rowan, as they undergo training to become scythes. The training includes martial arts, knife combat, gun training and every possible way to kill a human being.
The description above might seem familiar, but don’t be fooled. This book is good. I think it’s good because it deals with a large number of complicated issues: laws and personal ethics, societal rules versus conscience, mercy, duty, etc. I was surprised they considered the book to be for Young Adults. No offense to any young adult out there, but these are ideas are heavy and I’ve never heard a young adult talk about any of them by themselves, let alone all of them together. Shusterman weaves all of these ideas to deliver an original take on the dystopian society genre.
You might think by the depth of the issues discussed in the book that it’s going to be a bring book. That would be incorrect. The pace of the story kept me turning the pages. Shusterman made the protagonists of the story feel real and likable. I really cared for them and wanted to know what was going to happen to them as the story unfolded. It was a fun read.
This book is fantastic. It’s one of the best books I’ve read. I think the fact that it hit me when I wasn’t expecting it too might have had something to do with it. I think everyone should read it and I’m more than sure that it will spark a series of conversations with those who read it. For a book to deliver on several levels like this, has to be worth a read.
Ezra Carias is an author. You can find out about his latest book here.
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