BOOK REVIEW: “Arc of a Scythe” Series – Book One, “Scythe”


Courtesy of Natasha Plattenberg

Dystopian and fantasy novel “Scythe,” which is written by Neal Shusterman.

Over the summer, I began to read again, I had forgotten the spark of joy reading gave me. Being able to escape into my own reality with books made my world so much more exciting. My sister – ever the book nerd herself – recommended I start a series that I never finished, called the Arc of a Scythe.

The series is written by Neal Shusterman and has three books in total, Scythe, Thunderhead, and The Toll. I dropped the trilogy about two or three years ago. After finishing the first book within a week and moving on to the second, I never got past chapter five. Although, when my sister suggested I start the series again, I remembered how much I loved the first book, so I agreed. 

The next thing I knew, I was turning the last page at 1:30 A.M., practically crying my eyes out. While re-reading the book, I was surprised at the number of things I had forgotten that happened. Even though the book looks incredibly long, it moves fairly quickly and has so many amazing twists and turns. Currently, I’m on the second book of the series and am almost finished with it. 

The story is set about three hundred years in the future, in which governments no longer exist. Instead, the world is governed by an A.I. system called the Thunderhead, which knows and sees everything, stores the world’s knowledge, and provides people with what they need to survive. 

To keep the world from being overpopulated, the Scythes have been established. Scythes are humans trained in the art of killing, making it their job to kill a certain amount of people every year, and are referred to as “glean.” Instead of the Scythes being controlled by the Thunderhead, they have their own way of governing, which is called the Scythedom. Because of this, the Thunderhead isn’t allowed to watch or store data about them.

Scythes are also able to give people immunity from being “gleaned” by letting them kiss a ring that every Scythe wears. The ring then stores the DNA of the person and signals to every Scythe that this person has immunity.

The story is about Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova, two sixteen-year-olds from MidMerica. They separately meet a Scythe, named Faraday, when he comes to glean people the teens know. Faraday takes a liking to the two of them as they’re both skeptical towards his job and show a lot of empathy. He decides to take them both on as apprentices and chose one of them to be a Scythe after a year of training.

Although both Citra and Rowan are reluctant at first and don’t want to become Scythes – which, as Faraday says, “is a requirement for becoming one” – they turn out to be good apprentices. They learn to handle many different weapons, learn about poisons, and have training in a martial art called Bokator. 

Overall, the book doesn’t just have an amazing storyline, the book also expertly expresses Shustermans’ opinion about what the world will be like in the far future. Having this unlawful ability to legally kill people says a lot about how the world is currently due to all the war, hate, and crime going on. If this trilogy seems like a good read for you, pick up a copy of Scythe by Neal Shusterman today.