Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)
By Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
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.
This was another buddy read with Debby @Always Booking, She is still putting up with me. Scythe was her choice (and I am glad she selected it!). As usual, we have chosen to exchange 5 questions regarding our time with the book and share our responses followed by our own personal thoughts. You can read Debby’s thoughts here.
My Questions to Debby:
1. One of the very first things that stood out to me in Scythe was the use of the term “gleaning”. They never refer to the process of taking lives as killing. Why do you think this is important?
To them I don’t think the Scythe’s think of it as taking a life, they think more as a statistical way. They don’t kill they take a life or glean so more people can live.
2. Did you feel that given the setting in the story that the job of a Scythe was a necessary or crucial one to be respected?
For the setting of the story it seems crucial, however as a person in this world it seems crazy to me. I think they do need to be respected however there is a difference between respect and lifting them to a higher power.
3. How did you feel about relationship between Citra and Rowan? How did this affect your experience as a reader?
I was so torn about their relationship; they were and were not friends. I enjoyed it very much, both Citra and Rowan were very complex characters that needed to develop throughout the book and did very much.
4. Without spoilers, be truthful, who were you rooting for? Or were you torn between the two young protagonist?
Okay so I was torn, in the beginning it was totally Rowan, then in towards the end it was Citra. That’s all I can say without spoilers!
5. For myself this was a somewhat dark read that still managed to feel light and enjoyable at times. How would you describe Shusterman’s writing in this specific title?
This book definitely is a dark read.. but has such hidden light elements you wouldn’t even know you read them until you were chuckling to yourself. There were some moments that really struck a chord with me the “aha” moment that relate to your life were really good.
My Answers to Debby’s Questions:
How do you feel about the aging process in the book?
Without exploring too much of the book (for those who have not read it), I found the aging and renewal process to be crucial in Scythe. The plot relies heavily on these elements to emphasize the need for and importance of Scythes and gleaning. I felt the author utilized this all brilliantly to provide a sense of justification and dare I say, respect for the difficult task of Scythes. The significance of their role was solidified by these elements. I could not imagine it having been presented any other way.
Further in the book when we get to meet more Scythes, which would you choose to be paired with if you were in training?
This is a difficult question. I am almost torn between Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie. Curie is wise with her age and experience. Her history as a Scythe would certainly provide a lot of value during training. However, I think ultimately, I would still choose Faraday. His character just resonates with honesty and sincerity. I never found myself questioning his intentions or methods.
Did you feel the main two characters developed well throughout the book? Or would you have liked to see them grow more?
I found the character development to be surprising rewarding in Scythe. Citra and Rowan are both faced with the most difficult task of their lives and each handle this in very individual ways. The plot fostered a ton of growth and character depth, which is hard not to appreciate. I am excited to see how the sequel unfolds.
The thing I noticed most about this book is there is little romance, did you find that added or took away from the book?
I actually appreciated the lack of love story within Scythe. I feel that the main story-line would have suffered if Shusterman has attempted to squeeze in a romantic element that was more than the existing interest noted among certain characters. It was refreshing to read a book that did not have an underlying love theme. So in this case, it was certainly a benefit.
Cover love? Not so Cover love??
My Final Thoughts..
Scythe is a brilliant read that manages to incorporate odd elements of humor and wit into the normally darker subject of death. Through a cleverly implemented setting, Shusterman hand-delivers a dystopian tale that places a new emphasizes on humanity and the significance of controlling the balance of the population. Tasked with the “grim” job of gleaning, Scythes maintain that balance. When Citra and Rowan are selected for a duel apprenticeship under Scythe Faraday, they will find themselves tasked with learning to take lives or facing severe consequences.
It is through this unique and unsettling career path and training that the author presents a series of significant events all tucked within an incredible story telling that produces thought-provoking results. What reads as an entertaining piece of science fiction soon becomes an in-depth assessment of humanity told through alternating point of views.
Enjoyed with a cup of raspberry, hibiscus tea.