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Synopsis: 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 scythe 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.

Author: Neal Shusterman

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

scythe, neal shusterman

I just have to say this one thing before I start this review.


So much so that it was my first five star review of the year!

The world of Scythe is so incredibly fascinating. Can you imagine living in a world where death by disease, accidents, and old age don’t happen? Where war and crime are a thing of the past? Death has been eradicated… well almost. The only way to die is to be gleaned by a scythe, a human being who has chosen to dedicate their life to culling the population. When diseases have been cured, old age is no longer a death sentence, and healing centres have been erected all over to revive all those who have died in accidents, the population growth must be astronomical. Scythes were created and given the power to choose, at random, people to glean – to reduce the world’s population. While people no longer fear ageing, accidents, and sickness, the fear of death still lingers.

The story follows two main characters, Citra and Rowan, two complete strangers who find themselves thrown together as scythe apprentices. For one year, under their scythe – Scythe Faraday – they must learn as much as they can about gleaning, including different types of martial arts and weaponry, to prepare for three tests set by the Scythedom before one of them can be ordained as a scythe.

Yes, that’s right, one of them.

Only one will be chosen to leave behind their old life and dedicate the rest of their life to upholding the laws of the Scythedom. The consequences for the loser will be severe.

The plot blew me away. I loved how well thought out it was, how it seamlessly fit together like pieces of a jigsaw. I did have one issue with the book and that was how it was paced. Parts of the beginning and middle were slowly paced, and then parts of the ending were, I found, too hurried. However, that was simply one minor gripe and it didn’t take away a single thing from the story. The plot was thought-provoking, sparking an interesting discussion about morality and mortality, and remind us that, despite the incredible advancements of science, medicine, and technology, none of that matters when those in power – who have the powers of gods, no less – are corrupt.

The characters – oh, man, the characters take you on a ride! I found there was no character, from the main to the recurring, that I truly disliked. And when I say dislike I mean characters who weren’t well thought out, who didn’t serve to progress the plot further, and whose sole purpose was there to frustrate the reader. All the characters I ‘disliked’ were characters I liked to dislike. I like to dislike certain characters because that’s the impact they’re supposed to have. Pro tip: I feel like most people know this already (we really should), but I said the same thing and still ended up falling victim to it, so I’m just here to remind you to not get attached to a character. There is one character I absolutely loved, who really interested me, and who I was hoping would get a bigger role, but I had to learn the hard way yet again that all was not as it seemed. How could you, Neal Shusterman?! How could you!

The book switched between both Citra and Rowan’s points of view in a way that didn’t distract from the story – it was easy to pick right back up from where the character left off. While their goal is ultimately the same, the journey both Citra and Rowan go on could not be more different – and I loved that! I didn’t want to read about the same thing just from a different point of view. Citra and Rowan were thoroughly interesting characters. I can’t say that I preferred one more than the other because I didn’t, but I did feel more for Rowan right from the beginning from when he was introduced. There is also a romance subplot between the two but it’s extremely subtle for the most part. If you blink you’ll miss it kind of subtle.

I’m not entirely sure this review is able to do it justice in the way that it deserves.

This book exceeded all my expectations and more. I cannot wait to read the sequel, Thunderhead, and I’m so glad it’s out already!

If you haven’t read Scythe yet then do it! What are you waiting for?! Read it and then come talk to me about it. I’d love to know your opinions and thoughts on what has become one of my favourite books.

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    1. It’s so hard to choose which books to read when there are so many amazing books out there. Thank you, I hope you do find the time to read it – it’s definitely worth it!

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