“Everyone is guilty of something, and everyone still harbors a memory of childhood innocence, no matter how many layers of life wrap around it. Humanity is innocent; humanity is guilty, and both states are undeniably true.”Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I haven’t lost hope in YA! It’s official.
I have been apprehensive for the last couple years when it came to YA. All the books seemed to blend together. So many of them seemed to be strange spin-offs of the more populars novels that were written years ago. Lately, I think I have found some novels that were different than others.
During qurantine, I’ve read more than I have in quite a while. I have been busy with working remotely at home, family, and other personal endeavors. Nonetheless, I made it a goal to read more in 2020, and I have read eight novels so far. It’s not much, considering I can read a novel in 3 days or less if I am that invested. Still, it is more than I have for some time. However, Scythe by Neal Shusterman was one of those books that I was very invested in.
Let me tell you a bit about this novel. Here were are in MidMerica, a couple hundred years or so in the future. Humans have conquered death with the help of technological advances. The “cloud,” a term we recognize today as the storage of computed data, has become the “Thunderhead,” the sole governor of humankind on earth. However, although humanity has become immortal, population must be controlled. Therefore, Scythes have the task of “gleaning” individuals, which is essentially killing, in order to maintain this balance. The main characters, Citra and Rowan, are chosen by a Scythe as apprentices of the Scythedom, but only one of them would be chosen to be Scythe after their training is done.
What was most appealing about this book was the style of writing. I think that writing this novel in third person was beneficial. It kept the novel more focused on the events, more than simply the characters themselves. I liked that the Shusterman switched from various points of view. At times we were focusing on Citra, Rowan, a person who was to be gleaned, or other characters as well. I enjoyed the points of view of those who were to be gleaned very much, since it was interesting how the author portrays how an individual would react to a death that they could not prepare for, but must succumb to at any split second.
I also liked the entries of different Scythes between chapters. In the novel, Scythes are required to make daily entries in a journal. Those entries were almost like little nuggets of philosophy, and they made me think quite a bit. It was strange that in their world, where no one ever died of natural causes and all knowledge was readily available in the Thunderhead, the only bit of humanity that remained could be found in the Scythes– who had to kill people. There are not many other comparable endeavors that are as inhumane as that. However, humanity finds itself in that endeavor in this novel, which was very interesting.
Additionally, I appreciated that this novel did not focus on romance. It felt it was quite a small factor in the book, which was refreshing. I think that many YA novelists feel as if when they write, even if their story isn’t technically romance by genre, they must put some sort of love conflict in the plot because perhaps some younger readers won’t be interested without it. In this novel, although romance contributed in the story, it was very minute and tasteful contribution. If it was focused on further it would have been a distraction.
Scythe was more on the darker side, which had it’s own appeal. Some events in the book were a bit disturbing and gruesome, but it was not provocative. I felt that the characters were very relatable, in spite of what they witnessed and did in the book. This novel would be best fit for readers who like edge, but also enjoy the pensivity that they can acquire from reading thought provoking literature. I would not recommend this book to teens younger than fifteen because of the theme and events that took place. However, I can only imagine how interesting discussing this book with teens would be. In the novel, people had become content with the complacency of their immortality, and did not desire much apart from it. It would be great to hear from young minds about if and how perhaps society is affected by such an attitude today, even as mortals.
As you could probably tell, I really enjoyed this novel. I could write about it endlessly, but I don’t think that’s best. I feel positive that many of you would love this book as much as I did. Scythe is a ten in my book ; ) Thank you for reading this review! I will get on to reading the next one in the series, “Thunderhead.” I hope everyone stays safe and healthy. Until next time!