Thou shalt kill.
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.
Citra grew up in a small but intimate family, with her mom, dad and younger brother Ben. She was determined, competitive and curious, trying to do the best that she could everyday. She loved her family and could wish for nothing more. One day, a scythe came to their doorstep. To Citra’s relief, he did not come to take her life but rather offer an opportunity- the chance to become a scythe like himself. Unlike Citra, Rowan was a nondescript and invisible part of his large family, just another mouth to feed. As a child, he learned the art of the un-extraordinary, that the best way to get by was to simply neither succeed nor fail. When Scythe Faraday came to Rowan’s school to perform a gleaning, Rowan was given the chance of a lifetime to be a scythe apprentice.
I loved the characters in this novel. Citra and Rowan had different upbringings and contrasting personalities, both brought together under the apprenticeship of Scythe Faraday. However, as their paths diverged from each other, they also changed and grew in extraordinary and heart-breaking ways. Both of these characters felt real to me. They were shaped by the people around them as well as the events that occurred in the novel, yet they both found ways to overcome the challenges in their way, for better or for worse.
The secondary characters were also remarkable, from Scythe Faraday who was shrewd and wise, to Scythe Curie who was kind and gentle. The villain was truly, deeply villainous, and it was hard to guess what he would do next. There was also a morally grey character in this novel (without any spoilers) who I really grew to love.
Lastly, I just want to say that I loved the chemistry between the characters in this book.
Plot and Pacing
Citra and Rowan embarked on their apprenticeship together. They learned Scythe Faraday’s ways- how to execute a “gleaning” in a compassionate way, how to select a subject in a random manner without introducing biases of age, gender, race, etc. Learning to be a scythe was tough, but neither foresaw the greater challenges and twists that were thrown their way.
Scythe was a fast-paced book that kept me engaged every step of the way, with multiple plot twists that caught me off-guard. No matter where I left off, I was always excited to pick up the book again. I never had the chance to be bored, (which means a lot coming from an impatient reader like me!) The pacing was brilliant.
Writing and Worldbuilding
This novel took place in a futuristic world where mankind has achieved immortality. Due to technological and medical innovations, humans no longer died of old age. Under the reign of the artificial intelligence who oversaw the safety of the world, there were minimal accidents, and even when they happened, a person was simply shuttled to the nearest “revival centre” and they were healed in days. However, in order to keep population growth in control, humans must die to make room for new ones to be born, hence the existence of scythes. I loved this fascinating and imaginative world of Scythe. The simple concept of the world hooked me from chapter one.
The writing was on the simple and brief side, communicating only the essential facts of the situation with minimal setting descriptions. My only small complaint was that as fascinating as this world was, there weren’t many visual descriptors of how the world looked like. I am very curious as to how the buildings and technology are in this hypothetical futuristic society, so I would have loved to be able to visualize this more!
The Bottom Line: 5/5 stars!
Scythe was a brilliant YA sci-fi that hooked me from the very beginning and never let go. I loved the MCs who I rooted for every step of the way, and the plot twists that took me by surprise. A must-read for the sci-fi readers out there!