Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  11,672 Ratings  ·  2,617 Reviews
Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Citra and Rowen are two teenagers who get the pleasantry of meeting the honorable Scythe Faraday. 
Scythe by Neal Shusterman download for free or read it online
by Neal Shusterman

No one wants to run into a scythe, much less talk to one or spend any kind of time with one. They have the ability to kill you if they see fit. That is their duty. But Citra and Rowan had the chance to meet this particular scythe and they were both not very pleasant to him. In some cases this could mean they would be gleaned depending on the unpleasantness, but Scythe Faraday was taken with these two individuals and brought them both under his wing as apprentices. Of course neither of them wanted to be apprentices and possibly become scythes themselves. Although there could only be one and it's not the norm for a scythe to take on two apprentices, but such is life. 
To be a scythe you have to give up many things, but they are necessary in this new world where there are no illnesses and you do not die. So there has to be an executioner if you will. There are some evil scythes in the book that enjoy the killing and this goes against their creed but everything works out at some point.

I love these characters. I loved them so much. Citra and Rowen are just awesome and Honorable Scythe Faraday is awesome too. Even though he is a killer and has lived hundreds of years, he's a nice man and JUST READ THE BOOK!

Some things happen and Citra and Rowen get separated and are training under different scythes. Citra is under Honorable Scythe Curie and Rowen gets the evil Scythe Goddard <--- I'm not even calling him honorable. He's a twat!

There is a lot more going on in the book and reasons for this that and the other but you can read all of that for yourself.  


  • Pretty much a perfect teen adventure novel. In a conflict-free world where humans have conquered death, elected Scythes must cull the human population. Two teens find themselves volunteered as apprentice-Scythes, and discover that of all the things that Scythes can kill, corruption is not one of them.

1. Over the years, I've heard many books touted as the successor to Hunger Games, but SCYTHE is the first one that I would really, truly stand behind, as it offers teens a complementary reading experience to that series rather than a duplicate one. Like Hunger Games, SCYTHE invites readers to both turn pages quickly but also furrow their brows over the ethical questions it asks. Tone-wise, I would place it solidly between M. T. Anderson's FEED and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.

2. Over the years, YA has come to encompass a wide age range — one that I feel tends to skew ever older and sometimes forget the folks who are growing out of middle grade, but slowly. SCYTHE strikes me as a true teen novel, one that I will happily thrust into the hands of even reluctant 12-14 year old readers to show them what awaits them in genre fiction. It asks enough difficult questions to stick in the mind, but it never asks them at the expense of pacing or story. Although it's a series-starter and the end is tantalizing, it does feel like it satisfyingly stands alone (as is evidenced by its new Printz Honor sticker — the Printz is very rarely awarded to series books as the novel's merit must be contained entirely within the volume awarded). Moreover, it is very light on the romance, something that younger readers often prefer (and somewhat difficult to find in YA).

3. Over the years, I have grown too lazy to make note of when sequels come out. I've made a note on my calendar for this one, though — November 2017. I look forward to another good time.

  • I didn't know what to expect going into this book, and wanted to read it because 1. Neal Shusterman is an incredible writer and 2. Anything with a scythe on the cover has my interest.

This turned out to be a fascinating book that made me think much more deeply about death, but more importantly, about modern life and how the challenges we face in it are what make it worth living. Neal creates a truly original utopian world that looks great on the surface, but has a pretty nasty underbelly (like all realistic utopias.) The politics in the world of Scythes is intricate and realistic and well done. The characters were quite distinct (it's a dual narrative) and their development is portrayed very honestly. Though there were a few plot devices I wasn't quite sure about at first, they all smoothed out in the end to make for a book that's fast-paced, but also deeply thoughtful. Definitely recommend this one.

  • Scythe defies all YA tropes and is incredibly quotable. What more can you ask for?

Exhibit A:

    "I think all young women are cursed with a streak of unrelenting foolishness, and all young men are cursed with a streak of absolute stupidity."

    "Welcome to life as a god," Scythe Volta said to him. While behind them the building burned to the ground.

The story takes place in a world beyond natural death, where disease and aging is eradicated and accidental death can be reversed in a hospital. It's a pretty great place to live, overall.

    The concept of a B seat, where one had to sit between two other airplane passengers, had been eliminated along with other unpleasant things, like disease and government.

The only way to die permanently is to be murdered ("gleaned" is the euphemism used) by a Scythe, a socially condoned killer whose job is to keep the population in check. All of earth is ruled an AI called the Thunderhead, both an omniscient database and a conscious benevolent entity; the only thing not controlled by the Thunderhead is the Scythedom, which has a self-governing body reminiscent of the current US Congress. The action kicks in when two teenagers, Rowan and Citra, are chosen to become Scythe apprentices.

If, at this point, you're thinking, "Oh of course, I know this story type. They'll fall in love and it'll be star-crossed and I've definitely read this kind of book before." STOP. This book is full of surprises and ass-kicking plot twists that will blow your mind. Obviously since it concerns professional killers there is quite a bit of moral and philosophical talk, but it only adds to the unique value of Scythe.

  • What if cancer and all the worlds diseases were healed and our understanding of how to heal everybody was so great that you could pretty much save anyone from practically anything that would have killed them.

What if you could totally turn back the clock so that even though you are fifty-two or seventy-five you could look like you were in your twenties.

What if there was nothing like war, poverty or hunger because artificial intelligence wasn’t a bad thing and it was better at running the world than the politicians and warmongers.

The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government. Back in the days when the world’s digital network was called “the cloud,” people thought giving too much power to an artificial intelligence would be a very bad idea. Cautionary tales abounded in every form of media. The machines were always the enemy. But then the cloud evolved into the Thunderhead, sparking with consciousness, or at least a remarkable facsimile. In stark contrast to people’s fears, the Thunderhead did not seize power. Instead, it was people who came to realize that it was far better suited to run things than politicians.

What if selected humans were now charged with culling the population and causing the deaths of those chosen. That they themselves had to choose who to kill and perform the execution becoming walking death.

What if you were chosen to be apprenticed to one of these people and learn how to kill.

What if…… well you get the gist.

I used to read a lot of YA but after a while so much of it seemed the same. After the fifteenth time in the book someone released a breath they didn’t know they were holding or dollface’s eyes became darker (cuz that is what happens when you lust after someone) and she threw away everything special about herself for Jerkwad A I was over it. But then I found Neal Shusterman (NS). I think that NS is the king of what if…. He takes something from our society today and tweaks it extremely to the best/worst case scenario and TaH-DaH magic.

Neal Shusterman has been on my autobuy list since I read his Unwind series which is my favorite completely YA and Dystopian series to date. While this is completely different in the world and the characters one thing remains the same. This book is for people who like to ponder the “what ifs” of the world and society. Like….
To date, the oldest living human being is somewhere around three hundred, but only because we are still so close to the Age of Mortality. I wonder what life will be like a millennium from now, when the average age will be nearer to one thousand. Will we all be renaissance children, skilled at every art and science, because we’ve had the time to master them? Or will boredom and slavish routine plague us even more than it does today, giving us less of a reason to live limitless lives? I dream of the former, but suspect the latter.

This story follows Rowan and Cirta as they start their internship of a year with Sythe Faraday learning everything there is to know about what it takes to be a killer of men. Which is less about learning how to kill, although there is some of that, and more about finding a path they can live with. Watching people die isn’t as easy as one would think. There are moral quandaries and it seems that not all the Scythes believe in the same things. Could it be in this society where a fraction of the people die compared to the Age of Mortality that there are things going on in the politics of death that might lead to disaster???

As the story delves into the deeper politics of death and how the world might be changing I liked seeing how a few of the different Scythes treated the responsibility of killing and how each seemed to have a different process and a different way to deal with families and after affects. People are people and it seems that if you give some of them enough power corruption is bound to bleed through.

There is a very small aspect of romance between a few characters but nothing overdone and it is definitely not the focal point of the story. The focal point is the society and how Citra and Rowan are trying to find a way to change it in their own way or else one might have to kill the other at the end of the apprenticeship.

There is a little bit of time needed for the set up to the story but there was also enough going on that I never lost interest. I became emotionally connected to Rowan and Citra in their very different struggles and I really enjoyed all the world details that made be question if you could live forever would you really want to?

This will be a duology or I prefer the term duet and I was extremely shocked (like wtf just happened I didn't see that coming at all shocked) by some of the happenings going into the final quarter of the book. But I adore where the book let off for the next installment and I am really excited to see what Shusterman has planned since there seemed to be some beginnings to a few things and with NS anything can happen and you will probably find your jaw on the floor when it does.

  • This book was a very pleasant surprise! Since the YA library of fiction has become saturated with dystopian tales, it is often hard to find originality. Because of that, the stories quickly become boring because we have "been there, done that". That is not the case here!

Key pros:
- Unique story, well presented
- Great characters
- Action and suspense
- Little (if any) filler
- Left me wanting more

Key con:
- St. Louis is not the capital of Missouri

If you are a fan of YA - especially YA dystopian fiction - you owe it to yourself to check this out. I am 99.9% sure you will love this, too.


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