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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
Features Writer

The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Opinion—Book Review of Scythe By Neal Shusterman

Natasha Plattenberg
Madoline Plattenberg/NW FICTION AND CHILL-Looking for some dystopian fantasy to read in your free time? Scythe by Neal Schusterman comes highly recommended.

Ever wondered what society would look like if it were controlled by artificial intelligence? Scythe by Neal Shusterman is a science fiction novel that is the first installment of a three part trilogy, Arc of a Scythe. It was released in 2016. This trilogy appeals to readers who like to dive into genres such as dystopian fiction or adventure. The following novels in the trilogy, in order, are Thunderhead and The Toll. Neal Shusterman has written other book series such as the Unwind Dystology, which includes 7 novels, the Skinjacker trilogy, Challenger Deep and Downsiders.

In this novel, scythes are members of an organization called the Scythdom. They are chosen to live forever but have to perform their duty of deciding who lives and who is gleaned. Death is not naturally occurring in humanity anymore, instead, everyone’s death date is hand-picked by scythes themselves. Scythes can grant immunity through their rings, by letting those granted kiss their ring, they receive one year of immunity to gleaning. Humanity is controlled by a system called the “Thunderhead,” a replacement of what was once the government. This system is what can revive those who commit what is called “splatting.” This act is where one falls to their death, some by accident, others for the sole thrill of doing so. The “Thunderhead” has eyes everywhere and knows all information. 

The two main characters, Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova are recruited by Scythe Faraday who makes a visit to them both on separate occasions. His intentions are to train them in what it takes to become a scythe through the apprenticeship program. As both Citra and Rowan are pitted against each other to fight for a scythe ring, unexpected events occur in the Scythdom that changes both of their journeys in becoming scythes. Head to head, Rowan and Citra grow simultaneously closer as well as apart, trying to follow the rules of the Scythdom, while also trying to save each other. Who will win the title as a scythe? Who will lose? Rowan and Citra’s story begins with Scythe, the first novel in the trilogy.

When I first started reading this book, I didn’t necessarily know what to expect. The entire plotline is a rollercoaster from start to finish. There are many twists and turns you won’t be anticipating within the characters and the world that they live in. As for the human relationships in the novel, there was definitely character development between Citra and Rowan. I enjoyed their friendship and their relationship with Faraday. 

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This book encompasses and flawlessly shows how humanity and society would stand if we were controlled by artificial intelligence. We don’t realize how technology can consume us, control us and create barriers in some aspects that will hurt us rather than help us. 

I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of dystopian book trilogies such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Illuminae Files series. If you prefer genres such as science, dystopian, adventure or even apocalyptic fiction, you will thoroughly appreciate the content, characters, developments, and plotline of the first novel Scythe in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. If I were to rate this book on a scale of one (being poor) and ten (being excellent), I would rate this book a ten for its well thought out plot, how it connects to society’s use of technology in today’s world and keeping its audience wanting more.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This piece is a guest column, written by a Northern Michigan University student, faculty member, or community member. It expresses the personal opinions of the individual writer, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the North Wind. The North Wind reserves the right to avoid publishing columns that do not meet the North Wind’s publication standards. To submit a guest column contact the opinion editor at [email protected] with the subject North Wind Guest Column.

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About the Contributor
Madoline Plattenberg
Madoline Plattenberg, Features Editor
During my time at Northern, I have found my passion for writing and editing through the North Wind. I was welcomed with open arms and I’ve been able to practice and hone my skills through various roles as a copy editor, assistant sports editor and now in my current position as features editor. As a multimedia journalism major with a public relations minor, I only expect to grow in the coming semester. I have previously worked as a News Reporting Intern at WORT 89.9 FM and Interned as an anchor on Public Eye News at WNMU-TV PBS.