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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Book 1) by Neal…

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Book 1) (edition 2016)

by Neal Shusterman (Author)

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1,1316110,760 (4.34)19
Title:Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Book 1)
Authors:Neal Shusterman (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2016), Edition: Reprint, 449 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman



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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
I don't read a lot of YA novels but this series is really good! An intriguing premise and plenty of colorfully robed characters. The strength of the story doesn't lie with the technology (not really explained much ) but with the exploration of human nature. ( )
  KatyBee | Jan 12, 2019 |
In this future, there is no war, no death, no disease, no misery. It is a post-mortal age where you have the chance to live forever. Scythes are the only ones who can take a life away - with an act called gleaming. The acts are random, and up to the individual Scythe. Scythes help keep the population under control, and everyone lives in fear that their time will soon be up.

Rowan and Citra - two 17 year old kids - have been picked to become Scythe apprentices. Neither of them wants the job, which makes them perfect. They will spend the next year learning how to be a Scythe and take 4 test before becoming an official Scythe. If they fail, they will go back to their lives. If they succeed, they will spend eternity gleaming people of their choosing - meeting their quota to keep population control.

During their time as apprentances, they find that there are all kinds of Scythes. Those who take their job seriously and are compasionate, and those who see it as a position of power.

Rowan and Citra must learn to take life and hope that it doesn't mean the end of their own.

This was a pretty good book. I have read Shusterman's "Unwind" series and thought it was clever. This did not disappoint. There are a few twists in the story that kept me moving at a quick pace to finish the book. I wanted to find out what would happen to Citra and Rowan once they took their final test. I also found myself going back and forth between being for or against the idea of a Scythe in the age of immortality. You can see the need for some way to control the population, but some of the methods seemed a bit....much.

This book is listed for 7th grade and up, but if your pre-teens are not really into gore and killing in books, pass this one up. I think it is probably better suited for high school and beyond.

There is a second book which I am starting today. I am anxious to see where the story is going. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
June 17th, 2018 update: So, after a lot of angry rants to myself in my head and to my family (who don't care and just wish I'd stop complaining about a book they haven't read and aren't going to), I have dropped a star from my already somewhat low rating (3 is fairly low for me, okay). This book is just trying too hard in all the wrong places, and not trying enough where it matters. The world makes no sense, the characters suck, the themes are too vague, and the humor fell flat. Honestly, I don't see what people like about this, let alone love. If you want to see my angry spoiler rant, then click here: Why is burning the only way to kill people without a Scythe? Why doesn't splatting from terminal velocity kill you, ultimately turning your organs into mush, or a head-shot that renders you brain-dead? What about chopping you into little pieces? Is cancer still a thing or was that cured along with mortality? How does this immortality thing work? Is it done at birth?

What are the nano-thingies? Emo-nanos?? That's basically mind control, if I've learned anything from Brave New World. Is that how everyone in the entire world just accepted that they are governed by Google? And given how everything seems to work--for as long as it suits the plot apparently--the Thunderhead has domain over things like nanos, so why are Scythes allowed to keep theirs activated? Is this how the Thunderhead communicated with Citrus even though she was dead? Or is she just ~speshul~?

If there are bots, why not have them be the law enforcers instead of people (I think they're people--it's never specified because they were in literally only in one scene after Citrus jumped off the fat guy's roof) because there's no "human" government?

How are they getting food? Do they have farmers or does everyone live in a city or in an isolated mountain hut? WTF is chickenoid??? Is it a robot chicken? Is it vegan chicken? What happened to the freaking normal chickens??????

Why is Citrus Scythe Anastasia and not Scythe Romanov? Is the last name rule too mainstream for her or something? Is it because Anastasia is ~pretty~ so she gets to go by a first name? When she gets close to someone, does she say, "Oh, just call me Romanov"?

Government surveillance is literally the only way the Thunderhead can monitor people (unless it's the emo-nanites), and that's what it is basically said to do when Faraday fakes his suicide, but obviously it has blind spots, so basically people can do whatever tf they want apparently without any consequences. What's to stop someone from going off to their isolated mountain hut and torturing someone to death, then driving over to the local friendly revival center and reviving them, and then going back for more? This society encourages decadence and immorality but honestly, the only people shown to be morally corrupt were the Scythes. The regular people were selfish and petty, yeah, but Goddard was a sociopath, and fat guy is basically a spoiled king. Just because the Scythes are the only ones sanctioned to kill doesn't mean that people wouldn't kill each other, or suicides wouldn't happen. Why not just set them/yourself on fire?? It's the only way, apparently.

So, if revivals cost money, and apparently there's still poverty (but they're just slummin' it, apparently), isn't it possible for someone to die for real because they're too poor? Why keep the economic divide in the first place?

If population is a concern, then why isn't there a birth limit?

WHY TF DOES FAT GUY NOT KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE TORTURE? Were all forms of media destroyed from the Age of Mortality? Is he just an idiot? Was there some mass destruction of all records of or references to crime and fat guy just found the last remaining document with the word "torture" even though the study of killcraft is literally a thing?

And last but not least:WHAT DO ANY OF THEM EXCEPT FOR CURIE LOOK LIKE????????? Would it glean you to write a physical description, Shusterman? For an award-winning author, you don't like to write much, do you? Thank you for reading all the way through my angry rant. If you agree, yay! If you disagree, then good for you! You're a happy, well-rounded person who isn't bitter about popular books.
The only reason why this is 2 stars now is because I liked the journal entries and I liked Rowan. That's it. They each get a star for getting me through this piece of trash.


I don't even know what to begin with. There's simultaneously too little and too much to say. I don't know if I'm disappointed or pleasantly surprised. I think I'm both, somehow.

We are not the same beings we once were.

So then, if we are no longer human, what are we?
The Writing

I'm sure that not all copies are this way, that some proofreader realized the horrible mistake that had been made and fixed it, but my copy was littered with typos, incomplete sentences, and improper punctuation. It begs the question, especially considering the glaring worldbuilding inconsistencies and plot holes: was this book proofread at all before publication?

The writing itself, ignoring the distracting errors, was fairly subpar, pretentiously lyrical at times, and unimaginatively boring at others. There were lines that were very good that I really liked, but over all, there was nothing special about Shusterman's writing style.

The first half of the book was so insanely boring and slow. So much could have been done in it, like clarifying the world or building the characters (like actually giving them any physical descriptions, for one thing), but instead it was used to force a completely unnecessary cringey love story in which 16 year olds acted like they were 11 or 12 around each other.

Dialogue was very stilted sometimes, going so far as to bring the world into greater question than his poor worldbuilding already had. Take this exchange for instance, when Goddard is introduced:

"There he is!"

"It's him!"

"He's so handsome!"

"He's so scary!"

"He's so well-groomed!"

Goddard took a moment to turn to the crowd and sweep his hand in a royal wave. Then he focused on one girl from the audience, held her gaze, pointed at her then continued on up the stairs, saying nothing.

"He's so strange!"

"He's so mysterious!"

"He's so charming."
Let me remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that these speakers are immortal citizens living in a highly technologically advanced utopia. And yet they all act like cartoon caricatures. He does write at one point, "Immortality has turned us all into cartoons," but he was referring to how people return from death(ish) easily, like a cartoon (or more accurately, a video game character), not his own wooden characters.

There were a few characters, who I will discuss specifically in the "characters" section, who felt real and well rounded (for the most part).

"Rightmindedness is overrated," Goddard said. "I'd rather have a mind that's clear than one that's 'right.'"
The themes of this book were in direct conflict with one another. At times, there appeared to be a level of grey morality and ambiguity which I appreciated, because it opened the door for greater discussion about what constitutes right and wrong, and whether morality is subjective—but then Shusterman introduced the Thunderhead as a morally correct entity incapable of making mistakes or errors, which implies black and white morality. So which is it, Neal? Which idea are you pushing? Which theme are you attempting to advocate? The effects of perfection, social stagnation, immortality, the potential for decadence and moral disregard for human life, and government sanctioned ritual killing on human nature were barely explored, if at all.

Being made to suffer pain frees us to feel the joy of being human.
I absolutely loved the journal entries, though! Those were great!

The Worldbuilding

The world was very poorly built in my opinion. It wasn't until more than halfway that any clear understanding of what exactly the Thunderhead was was explained, and even then, I'm still confused. It was marketed as a dystopia, but the regular world itself is a Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and The Giver merge smashed into a utopia with the Scythedom being the dystopia, and yet didn't come to a clear thematic consensus like those two other books did.

The world was plot hole ridden. A particular problem I had was the mention of "bots", used primarily as a running gag. These bots were integrated into society, seemingly human in appearance and behavior, and yet people were also completely aware of, and unperturbed by, their existence. Their purpose was never made known (though one was said to be a Bokator training bot). Their existence in the narrative only raised questions, none of which were answered.

Also, it wasn't ever made clear how far familial relations extend for Scythe immunity. Sometimes it was those living in the household, other times it was immediate relatives.

The governmental system, law enforcement, and the nature of the human condition were totally vague the entire book. People were all seemingly completely content in their lives with an AI at the helm of the whole world. There was a running joke of how there's no government, but obviously there is, since every single society requires one.

The Tonists felt tropey, contrived, and frankly, offensive. Religions likely wouldn't just disappear in the advent of immortality, and I really doubt the one that emerged would be about sound, especially given the world Shusterman created. I can think of many possible religions, and yet none were used.

As a sci-fi, it was just poorly done. He threw out some fnacy mumbo jumbo and expected me to accept that this is a sciencey world? I could barely remember it was in the future until he reminded me with words like "chickenoid" and "Israebia".

The Characters

Citrus: Citra was really annoying. When she wasn't being a brick, she was a hollow log. She was self-centered and petty.

Rowan Whitethorn: I actually really liked Rowan. It was basically solely his scenes that drove me to finish the book.

Obi Wan Kenobi: Good ole Scythe Faraday was somewhat of a wooden plank, but he was pleasant and I liked him.

The Dark Lord: Goddard was very tropey, and occasionally very interesting, but ultimately just tropey.

(I tried to think of more funny alternative names, but I couldn't come up with any)

Curie: Her physical description was literally just the leader of District 13 in the Mockingjay movie. She was interesting and I liked her.

Volta: I really liked Volta. He was very thought provoking and I appreciated him.


Over all, I liked it enough, and I'll probably read the sequel, but I'm so disappointed in all the missed opportunities. ( )
  Faith_Murri | Jan 5, 2019 |
Enjoyable, fun read with an interesting premise. It was just a bit long-winded and boring. I'm glad I read it, but I think I'll be fine skipping any others. ( )
  JPetersonReads | Dec 23, 2018 |
“Scythe” is an extraordinary novel about a different kind of world than our own. Set far in the future, people have the technology to be pretty much immortal, but to keep everything balanced, people called Scythe’s are in charge of death. Not only the dead body part, but the actual killing itself. Everyone just excepts that that’s the price they have to pay, and most even bribe the Scythe’s with food and care for a chance at a year of guaranteed life.

Check out my full review here!

https://radioactivebookreviews.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/scythe-arc-of-a-scythe-1-by-neal-shusterman-review/ ( )
  radioactivebookworm | Dec 10, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Shustermanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Tremblay, GregNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional reapers ('scythes'). Two teens must compete with each other to become a scythe--a position neither of them wants. The one who becomes a scythe must kill the one who doesn't"--… (more)

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