{ Review } Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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“We became unnatural the moment we conquered death.”

Read in November 2019

My Rating: 4.8 of 5 stars

Spoiler free review

I used to be what we can call a dystopia fan. It’s the genre that made me re-discover reading back in 2013 with the The Hunger Games and then with series such as Legend, Divergent, Angelfall and The Darkest Minds which I all read during the following year. However, in the 5 previous years, the dystopia hype seemed to have decreased, or at least my interest in them diminished in favour of the fantasy genre that I found more complex and diverse. In my opinion, dystopias tended to be a little repetitive and since I ended up DNF Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series, I was quite hesitant to dive into Scythe even if the synopsis sounded so very promising. Since I like seasonal reading, I was looking for Halloween themed books and for the occasion, the library of the school I’m working in was displaying Scythe. I also knew that the ultimate book of this trilogy would come out in November so I would be prepared in case I loved this series and wanted to binge-read it. That’s how and why I finally picked up this book after hesitating for almost 3 years.

And I’m so happy because it was PHENOMENAL.

The setting is so smart, basically, it goes like this: mankind has conquered death. Humans are injected with nanites that have the ability to cure any disease, to fix any broken bone and to even reconstruct missing limbs. Even natural death due to age is no longer an issue since new technologies allow human to ‘turn a corner’ and to reset their physical attribute to match any age they want. There is also a super developed omniscient AI called the Thunderhead that has the ability to talk to the human through electronic devices and monitors every single person on earth. The Thunderhead has taken the place of Governments and is making sure that humans are well taken care of, insuring, for instance, full employment but also watching for dangers such as natural disaster, so that no human could die. If by mistake, one manages to die or be killed, they are immediately brought to revival centres to be resuscitated. It has even become a game for some person, in search of a thrill, commit suicide the fun of it just to be revived as if nothing happened.

“Without the threat of suffering, we can’t experience true joy.”

To keep the growing population on earth in check, Scythes are created. They are meant to be substitutes of death, above the law, they can choose who to end once and for all (even though they prefer the word ‘glean’) but also the means used to glean that said person. And each Scythe chooses his/her own way to pick the person and the weapon. Once a member of a family is gleaned, the remaining members are granted a year of immunity from gleaning. The first Scythe we encounter is Scythe Faraday, his method is the following, he refers to statistics back in the day when Humans were mortal and being very specific about it. For instance, targeting a high school student who parties and drinks a lot and who just got a car, that could have died while drunk driving. But some other Scythes prefer to seek someone who seems to have lost the taste of living or some other, even though they are not supposed to enjoy killing, are fond of bloody mass gleaning (plane, mall, school…).


In order to avoid conflict of interest, the Thunderhead is not allowed to interfere with Scythe’s business. Since there is no rule to specify how Scythes choose their target, they are respected and given everything they desire in hope to not be the one they choose or even to be granted immunity. But not everyone can become a Scythe. First, you have to be chosen by one of them and follow one year of training and then you have to be judged fit by the Scythedom. Citra and Rowan are two teenagers who at one point showed their bravery and compassion in the presence of Sythe Faraday. Seeing the potential for wise future Scythes, he decided to pick them to be his apprentices and to instil the ABC of the profession in them. They already have the most important trait, not wanting to be Scythe. But only one of them will succeed and be allowed to become an actual Scythe in the end and the winner will have to glean the loser.

“Have we ever had an enemy worse than ourselves?”

Overall this thought-provoking book was close to perfection, it raises vital questions about morality and humanity. The world-building is rich and gradual but not overwhelming and the writing (third-person narrative) is mesmerizing yet simplistic. The two main characters look a little bland at the beginning but they as the book progresses, they become more complex and even morally grey. The ‘romance’ in this book is really light, I’m not even sure it can be called romance or not. In order to keep the review spoiler-free, I’ll have to leave you with one last sentence, just read this book already! I’ll go into further details about the spoiling part in my review for the next instalment since I’ve already finished it.

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Have you read or will you read this book?
What did you think about it?

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French Book Blogger and avid reader 📚 - YA, Adult, NA, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance -, LGBT & disability rep 🏳️‍🌈, Ravenclaw Potterhead △⃒⃘, English teacher 👩🏼‍🏫 living to travel 🌍, proud mom of Padfoot 🐕 and Juniper 🐈

4 thoughts on “{ Review } Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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