Scythe

Scythe

Book - 2016
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""In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional reapers ('scythes'). Two teens must compete with each other to become a scythe--a position neither of them wants. The one who becomes a scythe must kill the one who doesn't"--
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781442472426
Branch Call Number: SHUS
Characteristics: 433 pages ; 22 cm

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JCLChrisK Nov 30, 2017

I could see how someone might label this future-set book a dystopia, except I don't think that's accurate since this world's utopia is still pretty utopian. Society is functioning, no one's particularly oppressed, and everyone's basically content. There's one small group that functions outside the bounds of society, though, a fairly ascetic group with a special, practical purpose. It's in this realm that some cracks are beginning to show, and where the bulk of the story takes place.

A story that is equally adventurous and thoughtful. It's a meditation on mortality given shape and adrenaline through the lives of its two teen protagonists.

Scythe is a consideration of the future; of, at least, one of the forms it might take. Immortality and bliss have been achieved. Humans can be revived from all but the most extreme deaths. Pain and emotions are moderated. Illness is unheard of. Aging can be erased with a procedure on a whim at any time. No one wants for anything.

Divinity has been achieved in the form of the Thunderhead, a worldwide artificial intelligence evolved from the Cloud. It is benevolent and oversees the well-being of humanity and the planet. One part of ensuring the Thunderhead's benevolence is its protocol of life--all human deaths shall be reversed; none shall be caused. However, humans continue to multiply while the planet's habitable space remains finite. Thus, a quandary.

The solution is the scythes. A group of people removed from society and cut off from the Thunderhead to live under their own rules, with the purpose of randomly inserting a measure of death into the system. They "glean" the population to keep humanity's size manageable. While not quite a religious order, they live by a very strict set of rules to keep their motives and actions pure.

Even such rigidly defined strictures leave wiggle room and space for interpretation, though. So when Citra and Rowen are selected by a scythe to train as his apprentices, they learn about the various philosophies, factions, and political maneuverings that exists within the Scythedom. And, as one might expect from an order tasked with death, maneuverings can be deadly. They go into their year of preparation knowing they'll emerge as different people, but nothing can prepare them for all of the situations that will arise or challenges they'll face or just how changed they'll be by the end of it. Or how the Scythedom will change with them.

Not quite a dystopia, still fairly utopian, but subject to human nature all the same. And stories of human nature in action are usually the most captivating. This is one of the better ones.

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Benvolia
Oct 30, 2017

One of those really good books that leaves you pondering after you're done, but still feeling a sense of completion to the story. I really enjoyed both characters, and appreciated feeling the anguish as the one I connected with more drifted further and further from their roots. A wonderful read.

t
tem453
Aug 24, 2017

What interests me most about Scythe is that it presents us with a "post-mortal" society with truly utopian elements (death and disease have been cured, and all major societal problems have been solved), but it then questions whether utopia is actually best for humanity. Do we need the threat of death in order to feel alive? Do we need the possibility of war in order to appreciate peace? If there wasn't a sector of society set apart from this utopia (the Scythdom), would there even be a meaningful story to tell on this world? The main story with the warring Scythe factions was interesting and entertaining, but it was the details and philosophies of the world that fascinated me.

s
SashaE
May 22, 2017

Oh. My. GOD
I finished this book in 4 hours (I'm a quick reader) without stop.
It was incredibly good.
The author made you feel so many different emotions and it was awesome.
I don't have enough words for this book.
Jeez.
It was amazing to read and, just, UGH.

I loved this book so much!!

s
shayshortt
Apr 26, 2017

There are a lot of practical world-building questions that can be raised about Scythe. How, for example, has humanity advanced so far as to be able to reverse the aging process, but been unable to master space travel, or some other method of supporting an increasing population? And if it is necessary to limit the population, why kill people in often gruesome ways to achieve that end? If you are the nit-picking type, you will probably have a hard time accepting the basic premise of this novel and some of the devices. But if you can achieve the necessary willing suspension of disbelief, you are in for a twisty and thought-provoking adventure that continually ups the stakes.

Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2017/04/25/scythe/

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sleepybookworm
Apr 06, 2017

While the premise was good, I didn't enjoy the play out of the story. I did, however, enjoy reading from Citra's point of view on things, while Rowan's story was a little more than dull. This futuristic world that Shusterman wrote is certainly an interesting one. With how everything played out, I ended up not liking Scythe as much as I thought I would. -- I did enjoy the ending though.

kirstd31 Mar 07, 2017

This book was great! It was so different from any other book I have read. The author did a wonderful job of coming up with a new world. It was fascinating.

MissLacie Feb 10, 2017

I am a Shusterman fan. In Scythe he explores a world without death, unless it is dealt by a Scythe for population control. Since Scythdom has so much power (deciding who lives and dies) it is full of corruption. Shusterman does an amazing job creating a post-mortal world and through journal entries that begin each chapter, the reader begins to contemplate the complexity of living in a world where people, good and bad, decide the fate of their own brothers, sisters, neighbors, strangers and friends.

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rasha1784
Feb 04, 2017

This book was excellent, and while the plot itself and the characters might've been a little flat, it more than made for it in concept and philosphical dilemmas. This book really made me think about mortality and morality, and the ethics of life and a "perfect world." Five stars!

AndLib1 Dec 09, 2016

Once again, Shusterman takes a very timely topic and turns it on its head. What if you could live forever, recover from any illness or injury without feeling pain. "Scythes"are carefully selected and trained people who kill citizens in a random and respectful ways in order to maintain population control.
Shusterman asks is this an improvement? Is a world without random pain and loss a better world? What happens when that idyllic world starts to suffer from corruption? This is the world Citra and Rowen accidentally on purpose become a vital part of. Shusterman writes some of the best Science Fiction- period. Yes its aimed a the Young Adult, but like any good writing all ages will love this. I will do whatever I can to get the next book ASAP.

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sleepybookworm
Apr 06, 2017

sleepybookworm thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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white_dove_454
Jan 22, 2017

white_dove_454 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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black_pony_62
Jan 15, 2017

black_pony_62 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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JCLChrisK Nov 30, 2017

No one rages against the system anymore. At most, they just glare at it a bit.

s
shayshortt
Apr 26, 2017

She wanted to believe she wasn’t capable of it. She desperately wanted to believe she wasn’t Scythe material. It was the first time in her life that she aspired to fail.

Summary

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s
shayshortt
Apr 26, 2017

It has been three hundred years since humanity turned the corner, leaving behind the Age of Mortality. With the arrival of infinite computing power, a benevolent AI known as the Thunderhead emerged to rule this new deathless society. But although accidental death is a thing of the past, humanity still lives on a single finite planet, and so population growth must be limited. This task was deemed to require a human conscience, not to be entrusted to a computer, and so the Scythedom was born. Citra and Rowan have been selected to apprentice to Scythe Faraday, a job that neither of them wants. But there is corruption at the heart of Scythedom, and the Thunderhead is powerless to intervene. Reform must come from within.

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