Have you ever imagined a world where death is no longer something we fear, but a decision made by professional reapers? That's exactly what author Neal Shusterman explores in his novel, "Scythe". Get ready to be immersed in an alternative future where humans have conquered natural causes of death.

In this thought-provoking story, Shusterman takes us on a journey that challenges our opinions of morality and power. Prepare to be captivated by his unique writing style, a perfect blend of philosophy and suspense that will keep you turning pages.

"Scythe" presents a narrative that not only entertains but also raises important questions about life, death, and the choices we make.

Dive into the brilliance of "Scythe" and discover a world like no other, where death is a controlled force and the consequences are beyond measure. Embark on this extraordinary adventure that will leave you pondering the boundaries of humanity and the power of our own decisions.

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Book Details


The story follows teenagers Citra and Rowan, who are reluctantly apprenticed to the mysterious Scythe Faraday in a society where scythes are the only ones with the power to end lives through "gleaning."

As Citra and Rowan navigate their new roles, they struggle with the weight of making life-and-death decisions. The book dives into a society governed by an all-knowing artificial intelligence called the Thunderhead, which has replaced corrupt governments.

"Scythe" delves into ethical dilemmas and challenges readers to ponder the meaning of life. It isn't just a story about death; it's a thought-provoking exploration of a "perfect" world where empathy comes at a high cost and natural deaths are a thing of the past.

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Neal Shusterman


Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Fiction, Romance


Arc of a Scythe

Other Books in Series

Thunderhead, The Toll, Gleanings (Anthology)


Death, Morality, Power, Control, Technology


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Date Published

November 22, 2016

Spice Level


Go here to find out more on how I rate intimate moments in books.

Awards and Recognition

  • Included in Time's 2021 list of the 100 Best YA Books of All Time.
  • Chosen as Barnes & Noble Young Adult Book Club Pick in 2019.
  • Recognized as one of the American Library Association's Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults in 2018.
  • Voted as one of ALA Teen's Top Ten books in 2018.
  • Selected for the long list of the DUBLIN Literary Award in 2018.
  • Winner of the ALA Michael L. Printz Award in 2017.
  • Received starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly in 2016.
  • Included in Kirkus Reviews' Best Books Of 2016.

Recommended for

Fans of dystopian fiction, young adult readers, those interested in exploring ethical and moral dilemmas, fans of science fiction

Spoiler Free Review

The world-building in "Scythe" is fantastic. Shusterman has created a captivating and scary dystopian society where death has been conquered, and a group of people called scythes control the population by "gleaning." The moral difficulties of this world kept me completely engrossed.

The characters in "Scythe" are also great. I found Citra and Rowan's changing relationship and internal struggles as they become scythe apprentices to be interesting. While I was more interested in Rowan, I also felt that the romantic aspect of their characters wasn't developed enough, and I would have preferred a more of a best friend type of relationship between them.

The ethical questions raised in this book are really important. Shusterman delves into themes of death, power, and the consequences of playing god, making me think deeply about these issues.

The pacing and plot twists in "Scythe" kept me excited throughout. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, Shusterman threw in a surprise that left my jaw dropping. I also loved Honorable Scythe Faraday, whose wisdom and honesty made him a standout character in the story. He's one of my favorites in "Scythe".

In-depth Review

Spoilers ahead! In this review, I may discuss important details and plot points of the book but not every aspect of the story is mentioned. If you have not read the book and wish to avoid spoilers, proceed with caution.

Plot Summary

In the future, artificial intelligence has become aware and form as the Thunderhead, a super smart omniscient network. It figures out how to make people live forever and takes over running things fairly. But, there's still too many people and not enough resources for everyone.

To deal with this, a group called Scythes is made. They have to pick who lives and who dies to keep things balanced. The story follows two teens, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, who become apprentice Scythes under Scythe Faraday. They leave home to train with him, learning all about killing and stuff.

At a conclave of Scythes, some other Scythes don't like Faraday having two apprentices. Scythe Goddard suggests a contest: whoever wins gets to be a Scythe, and the loser gets killed. It's a scary idea, but it gets approved.

Then, Faraday kills himself, leaving Citra with Scythe Curie and Rowan with Scythe Goddard, who turns him into a killer. Citra gets blamed for Faraday's death but later finds out he's alive. Meanwhile, Rowan rebels against Goddard and kills him.

At a final meeting, Citra & Rowan have to kill their own family members to prove they're ready to be Scythes. Citra tricks the system, giving Rowan a year of immunity instead of killing him. He escapes with Faraday, and Citra wonders if he's become a vigilante taking down bad Scythes.

My final thoughts

This is one of my favorite books in the YA dystopia genre. The character development in "Scythe" is great - they feel like real people with their growth and personal journeys. You can't help but cheer for them and empathize with their struggles. The author, Neal Shusterman, does a fantastic job of creating complex characters that make the story more engaging and relatable.

The book raises some important ethical questions about a society where people can avoid death. It makes you think about what it means to be immortal and the responsibility that comes with it. The moral dilemmas faced by the Scythedom (the organization responsible for "gleaning" to keep the population under control) will definitely make you reflect on the value of life and the consequences of having too much power.

The plot of "Scythe" is full of surprises and kept me hooked from beginning to end. The revelations about the Scythedom were shocking. Neal Shusterman's storytelling skills shine through in this book, with every detail fitting together perfectly.

This is an incredible book about death that brings together an imaginative world, complex characters, thought-provoking questions, and an exciting plot. Neal Shusterman's writing takes you on a journey to a future that challenges your sense of right and wrong, leaving you thinking long after you finish reading. If you're looking for a thrilling and intellectually stimulating read, definitely give "Scythe" a try.

Thanks for reading!