Scythe is the first book in Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe series. It is young adult dystopian fiction and the story follows Citra and Rowan, two teenagers living in a futuristic world in which humanity has conquered death. Citra and Rowan’s Earth is ruled by the benevolent Thunderhead, an evolved form of the Internet that has eradicated all of the problems that once tormented humanity (war, sickness, hunger, etc.). Even death is impossible thanks to revival centers that cover the planet. Humanity has answered every question and solved every problem, now only one vital task remains: population control. This is the duty of the scythes; ordinary people turned reapers who are charged with the task of killing others in the unbiased manner of death. Though necessary, scythes are hated and when Citra and Rowan are chosen to become scythes in training, they initially resist. But as they train, Citra and Rowan begin to find purpose in the life of a scythe, as well as forbidden feelings for each other. However, the world of scythes is as dangerous as it is emboldening and Citra and Rowan will have to think on their feet if they want to survive.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The YA dystopian genre can sometimes feel as though it is plagued by sameness, yet Scythe distinguishes itself from the rest of the genre in the best way possible. The concept is nothing short of genius and Shusterman does an excellent job of allowing the reader’s perspective to change along with the character’s perspective. My one qualm would be how unnecessary and distracting the romance plot between Rowan and Citra feels. The relationship between these two often feels like an afterthought, something that the author went in and added after finishing the novel. Another thing to make note of is this story’s lack of character depth. The characters are more vessels for the reader to experience the plot through rather than multilayered people that you really want to dig your teeth into. This didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book and is simply something that prospective readers should make note of.
All in all, I rate this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not something that I’m going to be rereading for many years to come, but it is certainly an entertaining and valuable contribution to the world of young adult literature. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an addictive and morally complex dystopian.