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.

Madoline Plattenberg

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. 

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.

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