Scythe, Neal Shusterman – Book Review

Hello humans! You know what cheery subject has been on my mind a heck of a lot lately? Death. Yeah…it’s been an interesting few weeks, to say the least. But thinking about death in an abstract sense isn’t such a bad thing and, if I’m honest, I’ve always loved the idea of the Grim Reaper type figure, I’m sure Terry Pratchett didn’t help with that one! So when I saw that Scythe was coming out in paperback I had to grab it and review it for you all.

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Find Scythe on Goodreads

This concept. This. Concept. I’m absolutely in love. The way Shusterman envisioned the world would work if we no longer had death (well, a little bit of death) was so well thought out. The worldbuilding was spot on, just the right level of detail that you didn’t get bored but you felt as though any question you might have about this society would be answered at some point. I appreciated that, while there was an AI running everything (The Thunderhead) it wasn’t the AI that was the villain, which was not what I expected given that AI is almost always made out to be at the very least passively evil.

I also thought this plot was the perfect thing to hang this world on, given that whatever story told is the vehicle through which the world is seen (that might be a bit of a mixed metaphor sorry…). What I mean is, through these two characters you experience different aspects of the world before they are brought together and the plot means that you get a pretty good sense of how society works without having everything explained in three pages of text. It’s a great example of show don’t tell (though sometimes I don’t mind being told things).

If the concept is so amazing why didn’t this get five stars? Why friends it is because this has possibly the most pointless romance there has ever been. I think these characters have maybe two conversations in the book (I’m willing to concede they probably do talk off-page but even so) and suddenly they are distraught at the circumstances that are pulling them apart!? I know romance is a subjective matter, some love it while some would rather it wasn’t there. In this case, I wouldn’t have minded either, but it was so poorly set up that it just didn’t need to be there. There were a few moments where I genuinely rolled my eyes, which must have looked a little odd to the other people on the bus. I’m imagining (hoping) it will be handled better in the sequel.

I still really liked this book, don’t get me wrong, I just wish I could have changed a couple of things to make it utterly perfect!

My rating: 4/5 stars

All opinions are my own.

What say you? Have you read Scythe? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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