Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Posted November 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review:  Scythe by Neal ShustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe, #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Rating:3.5 Stars

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.

I didn’t know how to start or write this review, I didn’t think it was easy to put my thoughts together for this book, as you see, it was a bit complicated.

The book is about a Dystopian world set in the Age of Immortality and what happens when the mankind has achieved about literally everything, including immortality.

There is a group or an organization of people called the Scythes, who are professional reapers that glean people by random and they are the only ones that can cause permanent death.

After both Citra and Rowan run into Scythe Faraday during his gleanings and he sees something in them that would make both a great apprentice. It’s unusual for a Scythe to take on more than one apprentice, but Faraday takes a risk anyway. Unfortunately, only one of the two can become a real Scythe and earn the ring – so both Rowan and Citra have to pass three tests before being granted the ring.

When a Scythe at the annual Scythe enclave points out that it’s unheard of, Citra and Rowan now face an even greater risk of one of the winners being forced to glean the loser and puts a lot of things at stake.

I thought the concept was interesting. I liked the world that the author had created and I kind of wanted to know more about it. It felt just a tad bit confusing at times. I did not understand how revivals in the world worked. I get that people could not die, but some of the deaths seemed really unrealistic for people to come back from no matter how you swing it.

The pace of the book itself was a bit slow and well over 400 pages, at times I found myself completely dozing. Most of this  book is about Citra’s and Rowan’s apprenticeship and it moves at a snail pace.

Half the time you are just waiting for something, anything to happen.

The romance was awkward and felt forced. There was no need for it. There is no build up. So if you are a lover of romance, I wouldn’t recommend this book based on that. It plays a really minor part of the whole picture.  I felt like the author threw it in as an afterthought because he believed that somehow it’s a must to have romance in books – it isn’t and it could have done without it. Really, I would have been okay with just friendship in this.

The format and the writing of the book is well put together. The character development was really well done as well. Both Citra and Rowan end up being shaped by their experiences and their training and both in the end come out completely different people with a different kind of purpose.

There is a conflict going on between the Scythes with those who believe in a different kind of gleaning and their ‘leader’ was a monster. I think that is where the book got a little weird for me. I understood the purpose of showing those kind of monsters and what happens when you get the power to kill people, but it was still hard. That being said, yes, there was lot’s of killings in this book and the author tried to paint a picture of what happens what you get the power to kill people. The mass murdering was just absolutely hard to read.

Overall, it was interesting and a decent start. Hopefully I will get to pick up book 2, and hopefully it will move at a quicker pace.

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20 responses to “Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

  1. Ahhh, so it sounds like it had a lot of potential but it would be kind of meh for me… I think I would especially dislike the romance. I’m not a huge fan of forced romances. D: But the world-building sounds cool! I’ve not read a book by this author, but I’ve been interested in this one. I hope you enjoy the second book if you read it next year!

    Great review, Lily. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  2. aw man. That’s unfortunate. I was really looking forward to reading this book because i’ve never read anything by Shusterman before but I can’t handle slow-moving plots nowadays, as well, the forced romance.

  3. The concept indeed is quite interesting, but I don’t have any liking for a short pace stories. Too bad! But 3.5 star rating isn’t that bad at all, lets just hope the book 2 would be in a bit quicker pace.

  4. I agree, the concept of this book has stuck with me for ages, but the pacing problems you brought up do make me pause — that’s the quickest way for me to lose interest in a book. Great, thoughtful review!

  5. I’m sorry to hear it didn’t start of with a bang but glad to hear there’s good potential for the upcoming books. The characters sound great, too bad about the akward romance ):

    Great review, Lily!

  6. Oh no. I don’t think this one is for me unless the second book really picks up. I do love it when 400 pages flies by without realization but I hate it when it is so slow you feel each page of that 400. Hope the next one does rock for you.

  7. OK – first things first – I love your page header. It’s gorgeous!

    The blurb for this book is very intriguing, but I must admit the idea of a romance within it sounds a bit jarring. I’m still excited to get to it, though.

    Great review.

  8. I haven’t actually read anything by Neal Shusterman before, although I did buy a few of his titles on Kindle. I reminds me a little of of Michael Grant’s Messenger of Fear. A lot like it actually, but without the dystopian setting. Nonsense romance can really spoil a storyline can’t it. Thee’s no need for it when you have a well written story and I think authors are mistaken if they think it always appeals to a younger audience. The brutality of the mass killings worry me. I read mostly at night and even YA, it sounds pretty brutal. Still interested in this one and might try his YA series first. Brilliant review Lily and so glad you could still enjoy it despite those nagging issues <3

  9. Ya girl

    You described my experience with this book perfectly. And that romance, I felt the same way! It’s a big deal for me in books because I love shipping and hoping for love where it’s not. But even for me, it was just poorly done. I honestly felt like they could’ve been developed into friendship instead of immediately, zero build-up or burn, it’s happening. Anyway, great review. 🙂

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