Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Book Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Paperback

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Plot Summary: Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
What did I think?

I had so much fun with this book, but I would like to get one aspect out of the way first: part of this world doesn't make sense (to me) and if I start poking at the Scythedom, I will probably find holes I could drive an entire bus through.

So, we're in a world with no hunger and no disease and no war and no misery. We've not managed to conquer space and we stopped trying because of a few disasters, and now scythes are the only way to end life, and we let them, because otherwise nobody would ever die, and the all-knowing AI that governs us promised not to interfere with restricting reproduction. (That AI, Thunderhead, also doesn't interfere with the Scythedom. It's a strict separation of powers.)

And yes, we let them end our lives because when a scythe knocks on our door and we try and escape, they will glean our entire family.

Unchecked power, oh boy.

Yes, oh boy.

Because, of course, if you give a group unchecked power, some will abuse it.

Now these scythes may glean however they want: knives, flamethrowers, guns, etc. They can surprise their victims, or they can give them some kind of warning. They get to choose who gets to die and how. They have quotas, and no they're not allowed to go after one specific group.

Really? We're all just okay with that?

Now, apart from me not believing that a humanity without war, misery and hunger and disease would be okay with randomly dying at the hands of a scythe, I LOVED this book.

It's go amazing characters, unexpected twists and turns, is whimsical and has such a distinct prose that made chuckle and gasp more than once. It's a fast-paced book, moving swiftly from plot point to plot point, dropping surprises left and right.

The conflicts are innovative, creative and interesting. The characters are memorable, albeit mostly either good or bad. They grow throughout the story and kept me interested in their development.

Shusterman introduced some great criticism of today's society. He illustrates the danger of unchecked power within an organisation and what happens if the "wrong people" or the "villain" gains support, becomes a faction and climbs to the top. There's nobody to stop them, no outside force that can interfere.

I read the entire trilogy in one week, and I simply could not put it down. A warning though: the second book ends with quite the cliffhanger.

I highly recommend this trilogy to anyone who finds the premise intriguing. This one is so much fun and a delight to read.

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