Scythe is a dystopian young adult novel by Neal Shusterman, and it tells the tale of a futuristic society in which all forms of death have been eradicated, and the only way a human can die is by being ‘gleaned’, a word which is synonymous with murder. However, only a few selection of trained individuals–known as ‘scythes’–have the ability to grant death to whomever they seem deserves it. Citra and Rowan, two teenage children living in the newly-titled ‘MidMerica’ are chosen to become apprentices to Scythe Faraday, only to get caught up in a gruesome power play involving murder, double-crossings and a deep set of adversary between those who have the power to glean.
Delving into this novel after reading Stalking Jack the Ripper, my hopes were not especially high with this novel, but I can certainly say that I found this novel thoroughly enjoyable in all facets. A common trope found among young-adult dystopian novels is a divided set of individuals based on a near-cataclysmic war, (The Hunger Games’ districts; Divergent’s factions) but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Shusterman, in many ways, manages to deviate from these tropes and cliches without failure, and it is thinking–and, in turn, writing–like this that sends his novel soaring into the extensive list of excellent young adult fiction. There were a wide variety of facets and subplots sprinkled throughout this novel that I had never seen before, and–as a self-proclaimed dystopian novel connoisseur–this kept me hanging on to each word.
The novel also incorporates a significant number of plot twists and interesting dialogue, and coupled with the likeable characters and interesting political systems, it is hard to set this book in parallel to any other story I have ever had the privilege of reading–and that’s what makes the novel so memorable! I will certainly be making my way back to Squishy Minnie Bookstore as soon as I can to purchase the book’s sequel, titled Thunderhead.