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Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

“But remember that good intentions pave many roads. Not all of them lead to hell.”

Neal Shusterman has been around for yonks and he’s always had some pretty intriguing concepts up his sleeve. In his latest awesome piece of speculative YA fiction, Shusterman shows us a futuristic world in which humans have conquered death, but in order to curb population, select members of society called scythes chose who lives and who dies.

“You see through the facades of the world, Citra Terranova. You’d make a good scythe.”
Citra recoiled. “I’d never want to be one.”
“That,” he said, “is the first requirement.”
Then he left to kill their neighbour.”

The story follows two well-written teenage protagonists who have been chosen to become scythe apprentices. Citra and Rowan are obviously reluctant to become killers, but each have their own reasons for doing so. We follow the two as they learn the trade, while simultaneously learning about the world throughout the book, and I have to say, it is remarkably well thought-out.

It’s a hypothetical I think each one of us has pondered: what would the world be like if humans wee immortal. In any speculative fiction there will always be plot holes and some disagreements here and there, but Scythe was actually excellently executed, leaving all but one of my questions answered and even changing my thoughts on my own opinions I had previously. The book gave me hours of discussion time with a friend, which is one of the best things about a novel: giving you something to think about and debate.

It was a cracking speculative read, one I’d recommend for all YA readers especially if they’ve never really picked up a book that focuses on critical thinking before. Fans of Every Day by David Levithan and Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder may well want to give this one a go.

“[…]we must always be vigilant, because power comes infected with the only disease left to us: the virus called human nature. I fear for us all if scythes begin to love what they do.”


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