Review | Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all 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.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: rings, gleanings, home cooked meals, scythes, corruption, colorful robes, journal passages, immunity and deadly weapons.

I fell in love with this book. I’m already a huge fan of dystopias as it is, but I’m surprised with how much I liked this! Well, I know I’m about five years late to this party, but the third book in the trilogy came out last year and I still see reviewers raving about this series. I know it is not recent but I still want to share my review nonetheless, just because I feel like this book deserves to be discussed and shared with the world.

This book is placed in a dystopian world where society finally reached the greatest achievement in human history: immortality. This means that nobody dies of natural causes or diseases, and therefore the population keeps growing and the resources available will eventually end. To correct this issue, there are designated people named scythes that are responsible for killing people – or like they prefer to call it, gleaning – in order to control the population number. Thanks to the nature of their work, scythes are very respected – and of course, feared – within the society. Fortunately – in theory -, future scythes are chosen by their character. If you hate the idea of killing other people and you have a very high moral, you are perfect for the job. Scythes should never take pleasure in killing other people, and they are expected to always do it in a respectful way, not only for the gleaned person but also for their families.

This story starts with scythe Faraday who decides to take a girl and boy – Citra and Rowan – as his apprentices. Since scythes rule almost everything, the teenagers didn’t have a choice and couldn’t refuse the apprenticeship. So this story is about them being horrified with the idea of gleaning and their journey in the apprenticeship to become scythes.

I didn’t think I would like the story, just because it’s not the usual type of book I usually reach for, but the truth is that there were so many elements that made me love this book.

Let’s talk about the story itself first. Can I get an amen for a true, original story? The concept is so original and inspiring, I don’t even remember reading a book similar to this. Not only that, but the writing is beautiful. Neal Shusterman sure knows how to write a great book. I found so many discrete quotes and lessons that I loved, and that are very accurate metaphors of our real life. Another thing I really enjoyed was the journal passages. Showing what scythes wrote in their journals – about how they felt about what they did and their thoughts in general – added so much to the story and to character development. The story is complex, has depth and is very well structured to the point that all the different elements go together smoothly. There is always something going on and the story progresses with a great pace. There are many crazy, tense moments and some plot twists in between, so you will not be bored!

I really like the format that he chose for the book. The book is told in both Citra and Ron’s perspectives. It was very cool to see how they bonded and how they had each other’s back during the apprenticeship. I not only liked the apprentices, but I liked every single character presented in the book – even the evil ones. Each scythe and each apprentice has its own personality and characteristics that make them special.

I always appreciate small details in books and one of my favorites from this book are the scythes’ names. I like how they get to choose their own name, based on important figures of history – Faraday and Curie were definitely my favorite. Another detail I loved was how they keep referencing events that are happening in our time and are considered history to them. Those passages acted like a bridge from our real/present life to that society in the future, and I found that very interesting.

Books like these remind me why I love reading so much. It has a very unique concept for a dystopia. I recommend this to everyone! Even if you think this is not your style, please give it a chance and you won’t regret it. I honestly would love to see this in a movie adaptation. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

xoxo, Neide

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