“Scythe” Book Review

In a future where death is no longer inevitable, what would life be like?



In a future where death is no longer inevitable, what would life be like?

That’s the question that Neil Shusterman tries to answer in his latest book, Scythe. In a utopia where the all-encompassing artificial intelligence known as the Thunderhead rules, healing is accelerated and nearly inexhaustible, and a life spanning centuries is typical. The issue of overpopulation is turned over to the scythes. Chosen for apprenticeship in their teen years and tasked with the only permanent ending of life, scythes roam the planet as the only true killers left from the Mortal Age. 

Scythe follows two teenagers selected for scythe apprenticeship under the same scythe: confident, blunt Citra Terranova and restrained, passive Rowan Damisch. Trained by Honorable Scythe Faraday, they’re taught not only in the various forms of death, but also in the vast compassion necessary to perform their job. Yet as they become more and more immersed into the world of the scythes-where the Thunderheads influence cannot interfere-the pair learn just how dark a world controlled only by humans can be. As divisions between the scythes who enjoy the act of killing and those who resent it grow, Citra and Rowan find themselves ensconced in the middle of a struggle that will affect the entire world.

Shusterman expertly grapples with the moral challenges this world presents, depicting the corrupted political sphere of the Scythedom, while simultaneously highlighting the righteous struggle between either side of the schism. 

For a story about the various ways of ending life, Shusterman maintains a tone that is not too heavy, or too light. His characters are fleshed out and complex, even those readers wish to hate. Moreover, he doesn’t hesitate to give his own assessment of what life means when there is no risk to contend with. The first book in the now completed Arc of the Scythe series, Scythe serves as the perfect beginning to an exhilarating, exciting, and downright thrilling story about life and death.