Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Publication Date: February 1st 2018 by Walker Books

What if death was the only thing left to control?

In a perfect world, the only way to die is to be gleaned by a professional scythe. When Citra and Rowan are chosen to be apprentice scythes, they know they have no option but to learn the art of killing. However, the terrifying responsibility of choosing their victims is just the start.

Corruption is the order of the day and Citra and Rowan need to stick together to fight it.

Then they are told that one of them will have to glean the other..."

My thoughts: I really loved the premise of this book, and found myself fascinated by the first chapter or so - the slightly morbid humour in this is right up my alley and I sunk into it really quickly. The characters are interesting, and manage to avoid (quite easily) feeling same-y or too flat (an experience I have had with some YA books of late).

Schusterman's writing is at times extremely beautiful and, at others, almost brutally concise. I think this matched the tone of the book really well and, even when he introduced characters that were perhaps not-quite-likeable (understatement), the language flowed really well and kept you absorbed in the story even while not wanting to know what said characters would do next.

I was originally going to give this a top score, but then had a few thoughts about the book's societal structure: I couldn't find any characters that identified as queer/being part of the LGBTQ+ community. This struck me as unusual for a potentially 'almost-utopian' society, and left me frustrated.

Otherwise, this is a really great first book in a series, and I am eagerly awaiting the second. I think if LGBTQ+ representation is put in place, this could be a really fantastic series.

[I received a review copy of this book from Walker Books. Thank you!!]

A favourite line from the book: '"You see through the facades of the world, Citra Terranova. You'd make a good scythe."
Citra recoiled. "I'd never want to be one."
"That," he said, "is the first requirement."

You would like this book if: You like books with a somewhat grim fascination with death, and yet somehow some humour, too; you like YA fantasy with a fair amount of action to it.

Tea to drink while reading this book: I recommend some tea with either rosehip or hibiscus in it, so that the colour of the tea can match the red cover of your book. (Or the blood of your enemies, perhaps?)

Rating:  8/10

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