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Scythe: Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe Book 1) Kindle Edition
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"A true successor to The Hunger Games." Maggie Stiefvater
In a perfect world, what is there left to fear? A chilling and thought-provoking sci-fi novel from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.
A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death.
In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ("gleaned") by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes' apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do.
Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe's apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice's first task will be to glean the loser.
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"Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman's dark tale thrusts realistic, likeable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions. A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning."--Kirkus Reviews --This text refers to the library edition.
- ASIN : B0778WH2DW
- Publisher : Walker Books; 1st edition (1 February 2018)
- Language : English
- File size : 749 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 449 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 24,807 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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The concept is original and even confronting, but death is a necessity to make sure that everything keeps within balance. I find Shusterman's concept of death being so controlled is incredibly fascinating. Two teens, Citra and Rowan, catch the eye of a Scythe, which is just what no one wants to do. But instead of becoming more stats of his work, they are given an opportunity that neither ever dreamed of or wanted to receive. They are offered the chance to become apprentices, a journey that tests every part of their being. The revolt that they feel about their involvement with death is up against learning that it justifies the end.
There's so much internal conflict for Citra and Rowan to deal with. Good vs bad. Right vs wrong. Self vs others. The book shows that the way we are taught is what builds us into what we become. To the world, all Scythes are the same - they have a job to do, they should be respected, and they should be feared. But as readers we learn that just as with any other part of society, there are differences in Scythes. Although they perform the same tasks, they have differing ways to carry them out.
As an observer, you find yourself accepting that death can even be OK, and that it's how it happens or the things we leave behind that is the real source of our fear. A dignified death bound with compassion is far less scary than one scarred in violence or fear. I know those of you who haven't read the book may find my comments a little confusing, but I'm trying not to give everything away while presenting the feelings it gave me.
Overall, Scythe is a book that lets readers explore their own feelings about death and imagine how they would cope in a time when society has gained all the power. I have to say that this is my favorite new series since the Hunger Games.
In a Nutshell:
Book 1 of the Arc of the Scythe series is an amazing read that pushes the boundaries and triggers deep thinking. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a thought-provoking read.<
It’s fascinating how society has come to see killing, or gleaning as they call it, as a standard, necessary part of life. But I have no idea how you could be okay with someone murdering your loved one. Surely it would be an emotional thing, no matter how rational you think it might be when someone murders your loved one none of that would matter. You’d angry and resentful all while being overwhelmed by grief. Though everyone is still accepting of it.
The world has defeated death by technology, meaning that if you have an accident, you merely become ‘deadish’ and will be revived at a Revival Centre. As you can imagine, the youth has taken advantage of this. Purely for fun, kids will throw themselves off buildings for the fun of it. It’s messed up that they would find this fun, but I think that’s the point.
To make their world even more secure and pleasant, everyone has nanites inside them that dull pain, control weight and can be tweaked to help with mental disorders. However, one character points out that this makes life pleasant and comfortable meaning you don’t experience the full emotional range life has to offer. Nothing will bother you, yet nothing will make you extremely happy. You can see how it leads to people throwing themselves off buildings for entertainment.
A requirement for an apprentice is that they must not want or enjoy gleaning, which Citra and Rowen both meet, yet the viewed the importance their purpose and the immunity that will be granted to their family persuade them. Citra was an entertaining character and an excellent lead to demonstrate the high road of the Scythehood. She is the epitome of logical reasoning paired with compassion and embodies all the values of the Scythehood. On the other hand, Rowan begins like Citra but falls to the darkness under the guidance of his second mentor. They were both interesting characters, and their growth was entertaining while remaining realistic. I think anyone in the same situations could easily go in the same direction.
This book hooked me from the start. Even when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about it, about what was happening, where it could go and what it would’ve been like to live in their society. Side note I love the characters of Faraday and Curie and I thought Goddard was a good villain, encompassing the bad traits of both the Scythehood and humanity while embodying the fight between the traditions and new ideas. I loved this book, I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as this in a while. I give it 5/5 and have already bought the next instalment.
I hate giving up on books, but there are others out there waiting that will engage me.
DNF at 40%
I genuienly found this book to be like watching the most exciting movie. In fact, im surprised that production hasn't started based on this book.
This story was absolutely fabulous. The writing style, the speed of the story, the characters, premise, plot and plot twists, the ending, the cover.. there is not a single thing I can think of to point at critically.
The premise is not one I've read before so that in of itself made it an interesting read. The world seemed plausible and believeable. I absolutely adored the journal entries at the start of each chapter. They read almost philosophically. They were articulate and had the feel of be written by someone with true wisdom and life, which is what you would expect from a 219 year old Scythe.
I love the fact that there is a second book which I will 'definitely' be reading.
Top reviews from other countries
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.
This is the second book by Schusterman that I had read, the first one being Unwind (and boy, that was just weird!) Schusterman carries on writing about weird and wonderful worlds in Scythe where humanity has conquered death and disease. This was a fantastic book that was written at the perfect pace throughout. It wasn't slow and then went really fast or vice versa, it was a nice pace throughout the whole novel. Let me just get the moan out of the way first and tell you why this wasn't a five star, but a 4.5: the 'romance'. Ok, well it isn't even romance per se... You know the characters like each other but they aren't actually together? So they're both crushing on each other through the entirety of the book and it's not until the very end where they actually acknowledge these feelings. For me, there was no need for a romance element between the two characters to even be suggested because they weren't really by each other for most of the book anyway. So yeah, there was no point. Schusterman could have just left out the insinuation of romance and kept it as a low-level friendship; that would have been much better.
“I think all young women are cursed with a streak of unrelenting foolishness, and all young men are cursed with a streak of absolute stupidity.”
― Neal Shusterman, Scythe
Ok, little moan out of the way. Now onto the complete fangirling. JUST. WOW. I absolutely love this world so much. I wouldn't want to live in it myself because waiting to get 'gleaned' by a scythe would give me so much anxiety. But in a fictional sense, yes this is an absolutely brilliant, well-thought-out world that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I can't wait to read more about this world in the next book, Thunderhead, which is ALREADY OUT BUT I DO NOT OWN IT AND THAT MAKES ME VERY SAD.
I loved all of the characters in this book and even the 'evil' ones, I loved to hate them because they were just sooooo bad. They didn't even have a reason, to be honest for being like that, they just loved killing so much. For Scythe Goddard and his team not to have a good reason for going on killing sprees just makes them that much scarier because they are so irrational. I really did love the character of Citra, Rowan not so much because he annoyed me half the time, but Citra was a hard-working, flawed female character and I loved her for it. She wasn't some 'chosen one' who mastered the art of Scythedom straight away. She worked hard at it - made some stupid decisions along the way - but she worked hard. AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE CHARACTERS OF SCYTHE FARRADY AND SCYTHE CURIE?! I absolutely loved their characters. They were tough teachers yet they were fair, strong and kind and I have nothing but love for them. Especially when we find out their backstory; it made me cry so much.
Overall, this was a fantastic novel that I had the pleasure of reading in a few days (would have been less but I was bedridden with the flu!) Apart from the romance-ish parts, Shusterman has written a near-perfect book that captured my attention and my heart and I cannot wait to read the next book and find out what happens to my beloved characters.
I finished the book and I was literally ‘oh-my-goddin’ my way through. I’m exasperated. Blown away. I was touching my five-head in disbelief, because my mind has been blown to pieces due to this story and how ingenious it was.
I’m pretty sure I became high. And now, I’ve been left exhausted by all the excitement!
Hello to my favourite new author. *bows down endlessly*
Now that my sorta headache has disappeared and my mind is still on the verge of recovering, I'm going to try and review this. Possible verbal diarrhoea ahead.
First of all, this book defines what epic actually means.
Secondly, the story overall was ridiculously clever. I honestly was not expecting to enjoy it, since I haven't been the biggest fan of the dystopian genre since The Hunger Games and the Divergent series. I stupidly assumed that it would be something along those lines. And because I haven't read anything in that genre in a while, I gave it a go.
What I was not expecting was this masterpiece. This intricate story that beautifully analyses our society, where in this plot-line our current world has passed and the population is just reminiscing on, whilst living in a state of utopia. The future.
This book took a fresh and unique spin on the genre and I've fallen in love with it again. More so the author and his craft.
It follows two main characters: Citra and Rowan who have been selected to join the Scythedom as apprentices, led by Scythe Faraday. Their role is to become skilful at 'killing' or 'gleaning' as it is referred to in this world, as the Scythedom do not believe in killing, but ending your life when it is 'supposed' to end according to their order.
I don't want to give too much away of the plot as it is best to go in blind, because the surprises that awaits the reader are darn good! But we follow these characters on a journey that questions their values, morality and their society and I LOVE when an author can subtly inject that into a story.
The world-building is pretty much perfect. We are introduced to it slowly and it is built upon as the story progresses in a way that does not get too overwhelming for the reader, but rather where the reader grasps it perfectly and falls into it.
A lot of that had to do with the writing. It was pretty much mesmerising and told in the form of a narrative (coupled with some insightful journal entries), which created this illusion almost where I believed that the world actually existed. Or that it is not too far off from our world becoming as such. It was ingenious and completely boggled my mind. I was in awe and in love.
As for the characters, Rowan was the most complex. I enjoyed the fact that we had two different characters on two sets of journeys, following individual experiences and it brilliantly overlapping. Their roles were challenging and questioned their moral.
It was an incredibly enjoyable and immersive reading experience. What becomes of humans and its society when others have been given too much power and aren't scrutinised for it? What is the point of existence if one is immortal and/or has the ability to modify their age/youth?
There were so many questionable variables that were explored that are relevant to our current climate. It was absolutely thrilling to read and I cannot recommend this book enough.
What was unique about this read was the need to engage your emotional intelligence. I can only describe my experience of reading as being in an ‘ethical think’tank’. I felt challenged, doubtful, shocked and pondered a lot over the philosophy and corruption of this dystopian world. I absolutely loved the concept of the ‘thunderhead’ even though it was in the background. There were some great thunderhead twists and I am here for a book two with that same title.
SCYTHE was YA dystopia like I have never read before. It was eerie, engaging, morbid and quite frankly, it was very gory. It felt almost a bit too gory for YA, but I am sensitive to graphic description of violence and death. Two teens, Citra and Rowan, were taken on as apprentice scythes – those that end life in this world without natural death. However, these two caused ripples in the scythedom and that was the premise for the whole book.
“And it occurred to her that being a scythe was like being the living dead. In the world, but apart from it. Just a witness to the comings and goings of others.”
There was amazing character development to read in this book and side characters that engaged me hugely such as Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie. The story line was full and detailed with occasional lulls that soon powered into explosions and fast-pacing.
I didn’t really know where the end of the book would take the reader but the ending blew me away, it was that good. Also, I love a book in a series that ties up some ends without leaving you frustrated, this delivered in that way. I am pretty excited now to where the rest of the series will take me and this being a book club read, I get to pick the details apart and I think that’s pretty perfect.
A world where death is concurred, where disease is a thing of the past, no government, no crime, no starvation, all the worlds major problems, completely wiped out. It sounds ideal, who wouldn't want to live in this world, but of course its not that simple. Enter the scythes. Scythes were created to keep the balance, to take life through gleaning and ensure population control is managed correctly. They have their own laws and rules to follow, but they are governed entirely by themselves. Selected and trained as teens to become conscientious killing machines, scythes live in normal society with one task, to kill. It's a great premise, and that alone made the novel interesting, because you can instantly put yourself into everyone shoes. How you'd feel if a scythe lived next door, how you'd feel if you were selected to be one, the world building is great, and you can't ask for much more from Shusterman on that front.
I found the scythes themselves fascinating, the differences in their personalities and methods, and the internal politics were what really kept the novel going. Having said that, its also where one of my major problems lies. I was confused as to why the scythes 'glean' (basically kill) in horrific ways. If society is sophisticated enough to eradicate death, why wouldn't they just painlessly give the people they kill a pill or something, why would they need knives, guns, fire etc etc. It didn't make much sense to me, and it just seemed to be added for dramatic effect. Thankfully those passages did give the book a bit more life and energy outside of the training and the politics, but really I didn't see that it worked in the context of the society its set in.
The protagonists of the novel are Citra and Rowan, chosen to be apprentices and going through their training. To be honest they were both fairly bland and boring characters. The romance between them was lacklustre, and dull. It felt like Shusterman had gone into an editing session and the editor had said 'YA needs romance, they need to kiss.' And then that was that. It was pointless and didn't really add anything to the book. There's not really any passion between them, and when they are separated, neither really pines for the other. I wasn't really drawn to either, there was some depth missing from their characters. I honestly didn't care which of them won the competition, which is a bad sign. I was much more interested in the fully trained scythes and hearing more about them. Particularly Curie, the Grande Dame of Death, who had probably the most complex character.
The big twist was predictable, but there are some real peaks of horror and violence towards the end of the novel that captured my interest enough that the twist didn't matter so much. I'd say this novel does exactly what it says on the tin, its fairly simple and black and white. It's good, because its an original idea, but it's not great. As with its characters, its lacking a certain depth, that would have carried it to a superior level.
Overpopulation is a fact and the way to deal with it is the Scythedom, a cult-like organisation that gleans (kills) the mortals, filling a quota per year. In a comic style, Scythe Faraday, the scythe the two young main characters are introduced to, uses mortal-age statistics as his approach to selecting those he gleans: yearly road accidents, tragic deaths of heroes, etc. Mortal society lives in fear of the scythes wherever they crop up, and yearn for that opportunity to kiss a scythe’s ring that grants them immunity from being gleaned for a year.
Instead of the gritty, sinister, dystopian circumstances of The Hunger Games, which is tournament-oriented in its survival and killing, there are the personal challenges of Rowan and Citra who have both been taken on as apprentices by Scythe Faraday – two apprentices is unheard of -- but only one of them can make it to scythehood. And there are moral conundrums within the scythehood itself: should they enjoy gleaning and treat mortals as lambs to the slaughter, or should they put their honour above all else? Both these influences inform the apprentices’ trials, interesting the reader in how they’ll respond in that crucial moment when they’ll really be tested.
I enjoyed every chapter and I was so pleased I took the chance to read Scythe. It blasted through my expectations. If you’re a young adult fan, or not, you may be surprised by just how much there is to enjoy out of Scythe. It felt like an urban fantasy story, even though it was set in future Earth.