Monday, 5 March 2018

Scythe by Neal Shusterman - review

Publisher: Walker Books

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death. In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes' apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do. Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe's apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice's first task will be to glean the loser. (Publisher's blurb)

After the Walker Bloggers' Evening, I was really excited about this book. The blurb intrigued me, and Maggie Stiefvater's quote on the front comparing it to The Hunger Games was high praise to live up to. This is one of the most fascinating and original dystopians I've ever read, and I can't wait for the sequel.

The reason I became so invested in this book was because of the characters. By focusing on Citra and Rowan's stories in turn, I already cared about them by the time they met and were put into competition. Both of them were distinctive, well-developed characters and they had believable reactions to their circumstances. The third person narrative also allowed the opportunity to delve into the life of the particularly vile antagonist. This plot structure allowed for character development and for the plot tension to build from the very beginning.

I also thought the world was incredibly inventive and believable. Mankind's mastery over death is such a compelling idea, as is the solution: to randomly kill humans so the population doesn't get out of control. The book really effectively showed minor characters' responses to their impending gleanings, and explored what it felt like to be a scythe. This allowed the subject of gleanings to be considered from every side.

I'll continue to think about this book long after reading it, as the characters and conflict had a strong effect on me. Scythe should be read by everyone who wants a compelling story and characters you can get behind.  

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