Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Teen/young adult fiction, Dystopian, Thriller, Science fiction
Book format: Paperback
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Description: In a perfect world, the only way to die is to be gleaned by a professional scythe. When Citra and Rowan are chosen to be apprentice scythes, they know they have no option but to learn the art of killing. However, the terrifying responsibility of choosing their victims is just the start.
Corruption is the order of the day and Citra and Rowan need to stick together to fight it.
Then they are told that one of them will have to glean the other…

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Oh wow this book! I can’t believe how much I’ve enjoyed reading this novel and can’t wait for the next books in the trilogy. ‘Scythe’ is a dystopian thriller set in future when all death has been eradicated and people are now immortal. With governments now obsolete and all things in the world controlled there is no longer any governments, death or crime. In order to keep the population in control scythes, special humans who take on the role of scythes, glean people (kill them permanently). When teenagers Citra and Rowan are picked to become apprentice scythes they begin to see how the world of the Scythedom is not as simple or pure as they had thought.

This is such an exciting book I was truly gripped the whole time I was reading it. I’ve always loved dystopian tales but this one is so dark and well imagined that I felt engrossed from start to finish. The story follows Citra and Rowan, with the viewpoint switching between them often, as they begin their apprenticeships as scythes. As new apprentices they don’t have the rights to glean people yet but they learn all about the art of killcraft. Although the basic idea of teenagers becoming trained killers is already a dark and weird one the book really gets exciting as we learn how corrupt the world of the scythes really is.

The book switches viewpoint a lot, although always in the third person narrative, but there’s no confusion as to who’s story we’re following. The viewpoint mostly follows Citra or Rowan but sometimes changes to another person. The fast paced switching made this feel very much like a movie and every scene just came to life in my head adding to the excitement. Although some people have said that the book felt too long or slow I didn’t feel this myself. The book is around 440 pages long but a lot happens and every scene felt right, giving us enough information to move the story along while leaving us with the questions that make you want to keep turning the pages to find the answers.

The whole story is a dark one. The future world is not too far from our own though and although things are very different the characters and the whole world is still relatable, with many references to the past and what’s happening in our world today. I don’t want to give away any details but a lot of the questions that surround things like future technologies, living forever, cloud computing, etc. are shown in this book along with potential outcomes and futures for these things. It’s this strong world building as well as all the questions and thoughts this book leaves you with which makes it such a great read. I really felt myself immersed in the world of Scythe and not all books are able to do this so well as this one has.

The book doesn’t have any bad language apart from a very occasional b word, but there is obviously mention of death and killing in some detail along with blood and for that reason I don’t think some younger teens would like it, however for older teens and anyone of any other age this really is an amazing book to read. The ending is good and satisfying but there is more with this being the first in a trilogy so I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

This is a book I’d really recommend for anyone who enjoys a dystopian or mild science fiction thriller.

-Review first appeared May 2018 – now republished here.


Have you read any of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy yet?  Do you like dystopian style books?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂