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Scythe by Neal Shusterman – Review





SCYTHE  (Arc of a Scythe #1)

Author: Neal Schusterman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover, 435 pages

Published: November 22nd 2016

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 Thou shalt kill.

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.


Decor 1

adri's review


Thou shalt kill

Thou shalt kill with no bias, bigotry, or malice aforethought

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it would’ve easily been a 5-star read for me had there not been some issues I couldn’t get past. It was original, entertaining and thought-provoking. And though it was a bit slow-paced, I wasn’t able to put it down. 

Imagine a world where there is no hunger, no disease, no war. Imagine a world where immortality is achieved, where anyone could die and be revived. Scythes are tasked with the role of ending human life the way nature no longer can; they are responsible for controlling the size of population. But how would they choose the next person to die? Can the choices truly be without bias? These are few of the many questions that’ll plague you while reading this book. 

“The ending of human life used to be in the hands of nature. But we stole it. Now we have a monopoly of death. We are its sole distributor.”

Our main characters, Citra and Rowan, are chosen to apprentice to a scythe. From then on these teens’ lives change completely. They must face their darkest sides and ready their conscience to bear the burden of becoming a scythe. I must say that I was very attached to both of these characters. Their dilemmas and their struggles just felt so real that I couldn’t help but be immersed in their lives. There is no way to expect what’ll happen going into this book. The story unfolds itself in an expected way. There are twists and turns; there are moments when you’ll feel like crying or raging. In the end, it was worth it because you get to witness the journey of these two lovely characters and you get to see them grow into the people they become. The character development game is strong in this one. I loved it. 

The world-building is probably the best aspect of this book. It takes relevant social issues from today’s world –  racism, bigotry, hate, corruption, oppression – and incorporates it, in a subtle but significant way, into an original premise and a beautifully fleshed out world. The Scythes and their rules & traditions; immortality and it’s toll on humanity – it all felt legit. 

“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace, comfort or joy. It is that we still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.”

Life, death, humanity, bigotry, kindness and cruelty – these are all touched upon in such a complex, masterful way. THE WRITING is absolutely amazing. It’s not flowery or lyrical or anything but it just resonates and delivers the perfect amount of punch. This is my first Neal Shusterman book and now that I’ve seen his skills, I agree that I’ve been sorely missing out. I will actively seek out and read his other books after this.

The only issues I had with this book is the plausibility of some things. Like I don’t understand why Scythes are allowed to use various weapons to kill a person when they could always kill painlessly by administering that pill? The rest would be spoilery so I won’t mention that here. Some thing else that bothered me was how there wasn’t more spotlight on the friendship between Citra and Rowan. I wish there could’ve been more substance there; I felt it wasn’t fully developed.

about author


Neal Shusterman

Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine, where he made his mark on the UCI swim team, and wrote a successful humor column. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movie script.

In the years since, Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. As a full-time writer, he claims to be his own hardest task-master, always at work creating new stories to tell. His books have received many awards from organizations such as the International Reading Association, and the American Library.

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