Book Reviews

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Schusterman

In a perfect world, what is there left to fear? A chilling and thought-provoking sci-fi novel from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.

A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death.

In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes’ apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser.

Rating: 3*

Recommended For: 13+

Themes: Life and death, good and evil family relationships, friendship

LGBTQIA+ Content: None

I was completely on board with this idea at the start. I thought it was clever, intriguing, and totally unique. In a future where we no longer have mortality, how can the world survive if the human population isn’t kept in check?

The idea of scythes – not reapers – dealing death in quotas was unnervingly believable. If no-one dies a natural death, of course gleanings must happen. Dealing death becomes the world’s most feared and most prestigious position.

That being said, there were elements that brought my rating down. While the ideas were excellent, the execution was sub-par. The writing lacked much flair, and there were a lot of filter words like “he saw” or “she felt.” It kept a sense of distance between myself as the reader as well as the character.

There was also an awkward Forced Heterosexual Attraction that really didn’t need to be there. That, along with much of the characterisation, was undeveloped and lacking.

That being said, will I read the next book in the series? You’re damn right I will. The uniqueness of the idea make a up for a lot of other failings.

No LGBTQIA+ content, sadly.

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