Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Audiobook Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 435
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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.

Scythe has been on my to-read list for two years, but I never could muster up the courage to read it. I started Unwind years ago and couldn't get into it, so I wasn't sure this super hyped Shusterman book was for me. Over the summer, though, I got a copy of Dry and LOVED it, so I knew I had to give Scythe a chance and thank goodness I did!

Citra and Rowan live in a future America where there is no death and the population is controlled by scythes. The scythes live under their own law and must meet (but not exceed) quotas of people "gleaned," although they're free to glean in whatever way they see fit. Everyone fears and respects them - Citra and Rowan are chosen as apprentices. Scythe Faraday goes against convention and takes two apprentices, planning for one to become a scythe at the end of their training. Of course, things go awry and nothing works out as planned.

I really loved both Citra and Rowan, although I liked Rowan a tiny bit more. I definitely appreciated them more when they were separated and were able to explore their strengths individually. Both characters were forced into terrible situations and faced them in believable ways that made me love them even more than I did to begin with. Of course there is a hint of romance, but it's extremely minor as far as YA goes. The villains in this story are also incredibly well written. Their motivations are complex and totally within the realm of believability. Morally gray characters are my favorite and there are many of them here.

One thing Neal Shusterman definitely excelled at was world building. I love dystopian novels and the best ones truly make me see them as real. The Handmaid's Tale and The Hunger Games are so great because the worlds are believable. Scythe belongs right up there at the top of the list. This world is so well written that I felt like I could picture myself there (yikes) while reading!

There are so many things to love about Scythe! The concept of having to control Earth's population because humans have overcome death is fascinating to me. The way the scythes were developed and the way they discussed these difficult issues in their journals was amazing and really made me think about morality in a different way. I also loved how intense things felt at times. There were definitely many slow moments, which was honestly my main issue, but there were other moments that felt so urgent that I couldn't turn the audio off.

Scythe is a must-read if you're a fan of dystopian fiction! There are definitely quite a few slow points but it will be worth it if you can get through them. I definitely plan on picking up Thunderhead as soon as possible!