Just How Perfect IS a Perfect Society?


Imagine a world where humanity has conquered everything. Thanks to a super-computer called Thunderhead, there is no more hunger, no more disease, no more government, no more death. Everything runs with extreme efficiency. The only bearers of death left are the Scythe, people who are chosen to take the lives of others to control the population. In place of natural death, the Scythedom was formulated to curb population growth by way of killing off people at random. It was determined that the taking of lives was an act that should be left to humans, so the Thunderhead was not allowed to interfere with Scythes in any way.

Teens Citra and Rowan are appointed as apprentices to Scythe Faraday. Neither want the role, which requires them to learn the art of killing, Citra and Rowan face many challenges during their apprenticeships. If they fail in their skills, they, too will die. Ultimately, only one can be chosen as a Scythe. Who will it be?

BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
Scythe is a stunning story! The author definitely kept me on my toes with all the plot twists and action. I really liked how Shusterman includes personal journal entries from the characters at the end of each chapter. It added a lot of depth and a bit of a personal touch to the story, thus helping me understand different perspectives. It was very interesting to read about such a perfect and advanced society. 

The story gravitates around harbingers of death. It is gory and violent in places. Some readers may also find that the story progresses rather slowly, but I hope that doesn’t discourage you from reading Scythe. 

BTSYA / Teen Reader (12):
Thanks to the author, the reader feels remarkably connected to the plot twists and inner turmoil of the main characters. I love how the author is that he found a way to involve the inner thoughts of secondary characters, as well as the main ones. This serves to involve the reader even deeper inside the story like they are a character in a movie. The Scythes concept causes the reader to reflect upon our world, and what they would do in the characters’ positions, sometimes without conscious thought because of how involved the reader is in the story.

This is a good book for readers who want a stimulating plot concept. The concept of the narrative, a dystopian world with Scythes, is what really sets the book apart and compels you to keep reading. The idea of a perfect world with socially accepted killers makes the reader contemplate the necessity of death. The complexities of the Scythedom make the reader examine individual values and morals; and the troubles of the general population are fascinating. They bring to light how people need to live life to its fullest and discover a venture that works for them personally.

One negative: Character development for Rowan and Cita is lacking. Overall, I recommend finding this book. If it isn't at the library, buy it. It is an influential story.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

A fascinating dystopian thriller that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Content Awareness Factors:

There is some gore and violence in the book. It isn’t unexpected since the story gravitates around harbingers of death, but it may be best to avoid this book if you aren’t one for violence.

Type of Book:
This is the first book in a dystopian adventure for teens. Given its middle-grade reading level, it is a high interest / low readability option. It is NOT a middle grade book.
Educational Themes:

What would a perfect society look like? What would be the downsides of perfection? Unintended consequences? These are great question to ask teens before they start reading, and they will invite even more discussion after you have raed the book.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
12 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
13 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer ages: 15, 12
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow to see if you're going to like the series.

Title Scythe

Arc of a Scythe, Book 1

Author Neal Shusterman
Publisher Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Imprint Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing © 2017
ISBN 9781442472433
Material Paperback
Cost $8.99
Genres Death and Loss, Health - Illness, Science Fiction, Social Issues
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