Book Review – Scythe By Neal Shusterman

This is a trilogy which I have seen around Bookstagram for a long time. Then my amazing brother bought me the complete set for Christmas last year and so I thought it was about time to see what all the fuss is about. So, without further ado here is my review of Scythe by Neil Shusterman


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. 

As soon as I read the blurb for this I was intrigued. It sounded like such an interesting concept, and I was definitely right to think this. Scythe is set hundreds of years in the future. The world has been perfected by the machine we in the 21st century call “the cloud” and they now call “Thunderhead”. And death is no longer something which is a natural progression. Neither is disease or illness; these have all been overcome. Now humans live hundreds, even thousands of years, or until they are gleaned by a scythe.

I loved the idea of the Scythes and what they symbolise, which is the natural progression of death in this age. Like death in the 21st century, you can be gleaned any time, any place anywhere, and for no reason other than that you were chosen by that scythe for one reason or another. They are the futuristic concept of the grim reaper, represented by their long flowing robes.

Citra and Rowan both originate from insignificant backgrounds, they don’t stand out in the post-mortal age as it is called. However, the honourable Scythe Faraday sees something special in both of them which could make them a good, maybe even a great scythe and this is where the story begins.

In the 21st century you have murderers who kill for various reasons; for pleasure, for self-defence to satisfy an urge or simply due to a specific moment in time. With Scythes it has been designed that gleaning is clean, emotionless, and simply as a means to help control the population growth. However, this is not always the case as you will find with this novel. Humanity may have been perfected through such methods as healing and intelligence, but some feelings have not been quelled in some Scythes which brings up the question, are Scythes simply people carrying out a role or could some be classed as cold-hearted killers?

This book brings into questions many ideas which makes you think differently about whether this perfect world, is really all that. We see the two main characters, Rowan and Citra struggling the accept their new role and the idea of “gleaning” another human being. However, as the story progresses, we see each take a slightly different stance on the role and we see both of them develop during their training, not always for the better.

Scythe is perfectly paced and sets the scene succinctly to help you imagine this dystopic futuristic world where death is an anomaly. If you are into your sci-fi or your dystopic fiction you will greatly enjoy this.

It is also your typical AI taking over the world, but unlike other books and films, they didn’t destroy humans, instead they perfected them. I feel like this novel isn’t too farfetched either, considering how much data is already in the cloud and how much is uploaded every day. We already have machine learning technology, so why not a machine which utilises all this data and analyses it to solve all the world’s problems?

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and greatly look forward to reading the remaining 2 books in the series. It will be interesting to watch the further progression of all the characters as well as the world.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A fantastic, intriguing, and at times dark dystopic fiction which combines human nature and machines to create the “perfect” world. A great read, highly recommend.

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