Disclaimer: I received this book for free through the Teens Top Ten program. This is an unbiased review. I will never accept payment for a review.
From the Back: Two teens are forced to murder—maybe each other—in the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.
In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.
Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.
Cover: I know that they say to never judge a book by it’s cover, but sometimes you can make assumptions on the quality of the book based solely on the cover. This is one of those books. Typically you can expect a great cover from Simon and Schuster, and this cover is no exception. The first thing you notice is the person wearing a robe, and the black scythe in the middle. The only issue I have with the cover is the decision to make the scythe black. In the books, they go out of their way to explain that a Scythe should be their embodiment of light, and yet, the scythe on the cover is black.
Content: “We must, by law, keep a record of all the innocents we kill.” Thus opens Scythe, the first book in The Future Perfect series by Neal Shusterman. I was a huge fan of the Unwind dystology and of Challenger Deep, and knew to expect great things from this book. I just didn’t know how great it would be. While there were some logistical issues with the setup of the world, I missed it during my first read because I was so engrossed in the world. The book is a change from other YA novels, because it depicts, not a dystopia, but an almost-perfect utopia. The organization that is the Scythedom is the only aspect of this universe that makes it almost-perfect. They are the ones tasked with
killing gleaning people at random, in order to stop overpopulation. Shusterman deals with the ethically problems posed by this with the touch of a master writer, and is able to show how morals make us human. And when it comes to the plot, Neal Shusterman delivers. Never before have I read a book that had such plot twists. Every time that I thought I knew what would happen next, it proved me wrong.
Characters: Shusterman has a history of creating believable and realistic characters. (Read Challenger Deep to see what I’m talking about.) Both the main characters, Citra and Rowan, are realistic and face the prospect of being a Scythe with the expected horror. At first, I thought that Rowan would be the most likeable character, however, I had that idea changed again and again, with a different character in the lead each time. Now, I don’t normally show too much emotion when I read. In fact, the last book I remember crying while I read was The Fault in Our Stars, several years ago. But this book made me stop. It made me think. And while it didn’t make me cry, it came close to it. The last book I read that had the characters show pure, unadulterated emotion was Challenger Deep, also by Neal Shusterman. This author is capable of some of the most beautiful writing of the modern age.
Final Score: 14.5/15 (A)
If you want to buy this book, you can pre-order it here. It will be released on November 11, 2016.
My next review will be of For This Life Only, by Stacey Kade.