Author: Neal Shusterman
My Rating: 4.75/5 🌟
I only picked this book up because it was getting a lot of hype on Booktube and seemed like a very interesting concept. I ended up getting it the day it was released in New Zealand almost 2 years after its original publication. I went into it thinking it was going to be a very typical dystopian series but ended up giving off a more utopian vibe which I quite liked despite having some obvious issues with the society. I am currently waiting for my second book to arrive which I plan to read as soon as it gets here.
In a world where the human race has defeated disease and unlocked the ability to create immortality the only way for a person to die to to be gleaned by those whose job it is to kill, Scythe’s. Scythe’s are trained in the art of killing and to continue on this profession they must take apprentices, in this book we follow Citra and Rowan, two apprentices to Scythe Faraday. We see them struggle with not only the disgust that comes along with having to take someone’s life but also the struggle of eventually wanting the job and seeing themselves as scythes despite their first impressions of the career. It is a thrilling book filled with twists and turns, never really in the way’s which you would expect.
“Is it not the job of the gardener to shape the tree as much as possible? And shouldn’t branches that begin to reach unreasonably high be the first to be pruned?” – Neal Shusterman.
This book was a roller coaster and I’m sure my flatmates got sick of my gasps and sudden yelling at these fictional characters overtime they put themselves in danger but it was amazing and worth an extra two re-reads via audible. I loved the two main characters Citra and Rowan and thought they were very thought out and well developed characters who I grew to care about immensely along with Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie.
Quick Character Synopsis:
Citra – Scythe Faraday’s apprentice who became an apprentice by questioning the cruel tactics of the scythedom. Later after Faraday’s death becomes apprentice to Scythe Curie.
Rowan – Also Scythe Faraday’s apprentice who becomes so when showing compassion for a teenager about to be gleaned. becomes apprentice to Scythe Goddard after Faraday’s death.
Scythe Faraday – Gleans by statistics based on who would have naturally died in the age of mortals. Is very honourable and lives as modestly as he can.
Scythe Curie – More modern. Is well known for gleaning a whole government, is admired for such and feared. Gleans based off those who have lost purpose in life.
Scythe Goddard – Pure evil, what would be known in the mortal age as a cruel serial killer.
The Thunderhead – The internet in this time is sentient and can understand and help people and decide what information to give out. It also knows where anybody is at any given time.
Side Note: Scythes can grant immunity for a year by getting the DNA of that person on their rings.
The novel really begins once Citra and Rowan are invited to be scythe apprentices by Faraday. With him they train and study about history, gleaning and whatever else Faraday chooses. They also attend Conclave’s at which are presented tests for all the apprentices. At this one, given the rarity of two apprentices being picked by one scythe it is decided that only one of them will become a scythe whilst the other will be gleaned by the winner. They both end up failing the first test. At this Citra and Rowan’s friendship seems to become far more seperate due to the fact that one of them would die in six months.
Scythe Faraday decides to glean himself hoping that with his death they will no longer be apprentices so neither of them would die. Unfortunately they both get adopted by new scythes and continue with training. Citra with Scythe Curie and Rowan with Scythe Goddard. Whilst most scythe’s glean a few people a week to meet their quota, Scythe Goddard performs massacres every few months with his decibels gleaning up to 250 people in one chapter all using slow techniques used to draw out suffering. This becomes very problematic and Citra loses trust in Rowan altogether due to his new Scythe being a terrible person.
Citra becomes very suspicious of Faraday’s death and comes to the conclusion the Goddard is involved, when Goddard finds out about this he blackmails the high Scythe and Citra is accused of the murder instead and is forced to flee with the help of Curie. She is given a name of a person she believes murdered Faraday by the Thunderhead and with the help of Curie goes to find him. The name turns out to be Scythe Faraday’s true name and he also turns out to be alive hiding out. This is the major shock of the novel which I did not see coming at all and made me have to take a quick break to try understand what had happened.
Just before the final test Rowan gets taken out by Goddard and his decibels for another massacre at a religious sanctuary purely because Goddard does not like their faith. At this Rowan loses it especially when his only ally of the disciples commits suicide after being forced to glean a room of children. Rowan goes on to help the people and kills Goddard making it look like an accident and being cleared by the high Scythe as innocent.
Citra ends up being cleared of Faraday’s death and finally it is time for the last test to see who will get accepted into the Scythedome and who will be gleaned. The final test it to glean a love one which the both succeed in. Citra with more difficulty then Rowan. Citra is deemed the winner and is forced to choose how to kill Rowan, she picks by knife. But she punches Rowan before being able to glean him and therefore ‘accidentally’ grants him immunity for a year. In the panic that follows Rowan is rushed out by Curie into a car and he finds himself with Faraday, unaware that he was in fact alive. The book then ends with Citra later hearing about a rogue person bringing justice around the country to unfair scythes, knowing in her heart that this was Rowan trying to stop any more Scythe Goddard’s from emerging.
I just want to quickly talk about how much I loved the scene where Citra chooses her Scythe name
“I choose to be known as scythe Anastasia
after the youngest member of the family Romanov
she was the product of a corrupt system, and because of that, was denied her very life—as I almost was
had she lived who knows what she might have done. perhaps she could have changed the world and redeemed her family name. choose to be scythe Anastasia. I vow to become the change that night have been” – Neal Shusterman
I just found it so beautiful to read and that Citra realises what is wrong with the system and intends to try and change it with the power she is given despite her not suffering the consequences.
All in all I loved this book and has to be one of my favourites I’ve read this year and am so excited to read the next book. I would highly recommend giving it a try or listening to the audiobook because that is also very enjoyable.