books · reviews

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

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.

Characters

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!

Did you read Scythe (or are you going to?!) What is your favourite science fiction world? What is your recent favourite sci-fi read?

26 thoughts on “Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

    1. Hello Kristin! Yes! Tension is the word that I would use to describe this book. Such great character dynamics! I loved Rowan and Citra and rooted for them the entire way 🙂 Thank you 🙂

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  1. Ah Sophie I am so, so happy you loved this one so much! I’ve only heard praise about this book for so long now and your review has me very, very excited to read it. I hope I can get to it soon, it sounds INCREDIBLE 😀

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    1. Thank you Marie!! Yes I’ve only heard amazing things about this book before reading it, and my expectations were already sky-high haha, however I still ended up enjoying this book very much. Hope that you’ll like this book as well! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts 🙂

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  2. This book has been getting so many glowing reviews, I’m super intrigued! Dystopia is not a genre I reach out anymore, but the premise of this book sounds really good- in addition to all the reviews. I’ve heard about the complex characters and how the different path Citra and Rowan undergoes made them who they are. I’m excited to read this; thanks for sharing! ❤

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    1. Hey Tasya! Usually I don’t read too much dystopian novels but I really enjoyed this one, even more than I expected to haha. While I find that many sci-fi/fantasy books lack a bit in the characters department, I really did enjoy the characters and their development in this novel. Hope that you’ll enjoy this book when you get a chance to read it 🙂

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  3. This is such a great review!! I haven’t read this yet, but it’s one of my go-to recommendations when people come into the bookstore where I work asking for a dystopian. Now I’ll have something more to tell them than just “I’ve heard it’s great”! 😀

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    1. Hey Margaret! That’s awesome that you work in a bookstore!! It’s the perfect place to work for a book blogger haha 🙂
      These days it’s been my go-to recommendation as well. Even though you haven’t read it yet, I hope that you will enjoy this when you do have a chance to give it a read 🙂

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  4. Wonderful review, Sophie! This was one of my absolute favorite reads from last year, and I’m so glad you loved it too! I enjoyed just about everything there is to do about this novel, but do agree that I would’ve liked a bit more physical descriptions about the cities and environment in the novel! ❤

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  5. I’m really glad you loved this book Sophie (and really really glad to see you rated it five stars as well!) I thought the concept in Scythe was incredible, and there were so many twist and turns I never knew where the story was going to go. Like when we were introduced to Scythe Goddard (I think that’s his name) and we saw how he gleans the people he chooses honestly I was shocked and I thought he’s be the main villain (which he was but not for the reason i first assumed when he was introduced you know?)
    Citra and Rowan were both incredible character, and oh if I’m being honest everything about this book was incredible. Are you going to start Thunderhead soon? That’s even better in my opinion so I need to know when you’re starting it and what you think of it the second you’ve finished!
    Great review. 🙂 ❤

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    1. Yes I LOVED the concept of Scythe which was why I pickd up the book in the first place. I definitely thought Goddard was the main villain as well, until the plot twist later on. Even so I think of the villain of the story as an antihero or morally ambiguous character haha. It’s kind of a heartbreaking story :’)
      Yes I do plan on starting Thunderhead soon! I’ve only heard great things about, and I am happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed it even more than Scythe!
      Thank you Beth ❤

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      1. I think the way the stories written you’re never sure where you are. I started thinking Goddard was the main villain, then I thought he was just a horrible person and a cruel Scythe, but nothing illegal about his actions, then I flipped again.
        You’ll have to let me know when you’ve finished what you think about Thunderhead, what I loved about it so much was the insight we got into the Thunderhead. 🙂

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      2. Yeah I’m curious about the Thunderhead because they are a very vague, omnipresent being in Scythe. I started a little bit of book #2 now and enjoying it so far. Very curious about how things will go 🙂

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