Scythe by Neal 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.
Scythe was the quintessential YA dystopia. So much so that I was surprised at how recently it came out. It falls along the same lines as The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Divergent, seamlessly blending everything readers have come to expect from the YA genre.
As a concept, this was one of a kind. Imagine a world where we’ve defeated death, pain, suffering. What kind of conflict would there even be? Schusterman’s world building was thoughtful and on-point, convincing me this bizarre world was possible. I admit I wasn’t particularly convinced that a world that conquered death would need to continue gleaning people, especially since population control is so clearly said to be a non-issue. What’s even the point of Scythes? Other than that, this was a unique and utterly fascinating concept.
However, I admit I feel that Shusterman tried to squeeze too many tropes in, and so many of them felt contrived. The romance plot line, for example, felt like someone told him later he’d better include it and was not at all convincing. The fight-to-the-death trope that has become all too common felt forced. The training sequences were so… usual. At this point, the last thing I needed was another YA book filled with TRAINING. Yet here it is.
Even the end felt so haphazard and rushed. While I admit I was surprised with the direction Shusterman decided to take this story, it all happened so quickly. It didn’t have the time, I felt, to build properly. Everything toward the end was so cold and calculating. I didn’t really know what the characters were feeling, though they must have been feeling something.
So while this was a great book, I didn’t think it had anything to make it stand out among the other YA dystopias. I know, unpopular opinion. If you’re a YA adventure fan, you are sure to enjoy this book. It’s awesome. But it’s not my favorite I’ve ever read.