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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe) Hardcover – November 22, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In a world in which humanity has conquered death (no aging, no disease, no poverty, no war), ruled by the Thunderhead, an omniscient evolution of today's cloud, Scythes are the only ones who are allowed to take a human life. They are considered to be the best humanity has to offer, and they roam the world "gleaning" people in order to keep the population in check. Scythes are treated like royalty and feared. The last thing Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch want is to become Scythes, but when they are chosen by Scythe Faraday to become his apprentices, they are thrown into a life in which they need to master the art of death. They prove to be apt pupils, but when Scythe Faraday mysteriously gleans himself and Citra and Rowan are apprenticed to two other fearsome Scythes, they will have to put their skills to the test against each other. Intertwined with the fascinating concept of humanity conquering death and the idea of Scythes is the prospect that perhaps this is not the ideal world in which to live. Humanity has perfected itself—so what does that leave it to accomplish? Shusterman starts off this series in dramatic fashion as he creates an engrossing world that pulls readers in and refuses to let them go. VERDICT A truly astounding, unputdownable read and a fast-paced beginning to an excellent sci-fi series. A must-have.—Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal
"Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman's dark tale thrusts realistic, likeable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions. A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Shusterman is no stranger to pushing boundaries. Scythe owes an obvious debt to Unwind (2007) and its
sequels, and this succeeds as a sort of shadow companion to Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy: instead
of exploring the ways in which men are monsters, this deals in what happens to men when there are no
monsters. When our reach does not exceed our grasp, when comfort is more easily obtained than struggle,
when our essential humanity doesn’t burn out but becomes slowly irrelevant, what becomes of us?
Readers will find many things in these pages. Answers to such unsettling questions will not be among
them." (Maggie Reagan Booklist, STARRED REVIEW) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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To find this dystopian YA world believable, all you have to accept is that A) they possess nano-bio-technology so advanced that they can effectively extend human life forever and yet B) they do not possess effective birth control. If you can get over this rather sizable hurdle, then the rest of the book is enjoyable enough.
"Perhaps," you say, "the obstacles to implementing effective birth control in this otherwise semi-believable dystopian YA future are the result not of deficiencies in human technology but deficiencies in human nature." Well said, my friend. If that is the case, you have already offered more insight into the topic in one sentence than the author does in 430 pages.
"But wait," you object, "maybe these people do have effective birth control and simply refuse to use it!" Indeed, except that these same people are willing to accept random death meted out by total strangers who are beyond the reach of the law. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.
Again, if you have the kind of brain that can simply ignore such inconsistencies, then the rest of the book is a pleasant enough diversion. But if you need your dystopian YA worlds to make sense, best move on. There's sure to be another along shortly.