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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) by Neal Shusterman
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 435

Reaction Upon Reading: What a scary world to live in!

“I think all young women are cursed with a streak of unrelenting foolishness, and all young men are cursed with a streak of absolute stupidity.”


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.

“You have three hundred sixty-five days of immunity.” And then, looking him in the eye, said, “And I’ll be seeing you on day three hundred sixty-six.”

Overall Thoughts:

Warning this is riddled with spoilers! 

Raised in a post-mortality society, where natural death is a thing of the past. Scythes are the people entrusted to keep the world in working order. They enact gleanings on whomever and however, they see fit. These gleanings are the only form of ‘true death’ in which someone can not return or be revived. The Scythes number one job is to keep the population levels at bay.

After demonstrating an act of compassion and bravery, teenagers Citra and Rowan find themselves apprentices to Scythe Faraday. They are set to spend the next year training and learning the craft and skills of scythes. In the end, only one can be named a scythe and the other is set to return this his or her normal life. The stakes are raised when Rowan shows unnecessary compassion towards Citra at the conclave. The scythes decide that the winner will glean the loser.

Scythe Faraday shortly after turns up dead, after performing his final act…gleaning himself. Rowan and Citra are quickly thrust into a very dangerous game. Each is split up and placed with a new Scythe, where they learn that not everyone is as honourable as Faraday was in their gleanings.

Citra carried herself so well. She is honourable, kind and pure. What I love most is that she is a certified badass, she never once backs down to Rowan. She goes into every exercise and lesson with the attitude that she is going to do her absolute best.

Rowan is extremely intelligent. He doesn’t want to glean Citra and is doing everything in his power to retain his humanity while ensuring his able to convincingly fail at the final conclave. Rowan is placed with what is considered one of the worse scythes of the new age. Mass gleanings carried in a cruel manner is not Rowan’s style, but he knows he must impress Goddard or risk a worse fate for himself.

Goddard was truly evil and awful, yet I can’t help but worry that not everything is as it appeared…with nobody how can we be sure? I thought that Rowan’s spur of the moment plan to rid the world of Goddard was absolutely genius. His relationship with Volta was pure and good. My heart broke for Rowan when he found Volta had gleaned himself, so awful.

Scythe Curie & Scythe Faraday is a story-line I hope we get to hear more about. I was surprised by the that Faraday was able to fake his own death and have nobody on to him.



  • How the scythes take the name of famous people that came before them.
  • The break in the narrative where we heard from the various scythe’s journals throughout history. These were great lessons and morals shared to support the story gave you insight as to why people behaved a certain way and why the scythedom was the way it was.
  • There were times when I actually laughed out loud particularly when the Scythe was trying to talk about ‘torture’ and ‘prison’ to Citra. A completely non-humorous situation made funny by ‘ignorance’.
  • I found myself considering ethics and morals while reading constantly. I love a book that begs me to turn the page and is able to make me think!

Book 2 is called ‘Thunderhead’ which I find very intriguing. The Thunderhead does not interfere with the scythedom and yet it chose to help out Citra. I am very excited for what is to come here.

What did you think of this book?

Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Overall: four-half-stars

About Kassey

27-year-old teacher. Currently living in New Zealand with aspirations to travel the world and photograph it all.

27-year-old teacher. Currently living in New Zealand with aspirations to travel the world and photograph it all.

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