I picked up Scythe on a whim in a New Year’s sale – my local bookstore had a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” table and I vaguely remember (it was a long time ago!) enjoying a previous book by the author, Neal Shusterman, so ended up picking this book as my “free” book. This was my first read of this year and also my first Cannonball read book review! I have been lurking for a while but decided to “take the plunge” this year (we’re just going to ignore the fact that I finished reading the book nearly three weeks ago and am only now getting around to writing this review)!
This book is set in an idealistic future where most problems facing humanity have been solved. The world is administered by a benevolent AI named Thunderhead, and there is very little death – most lethal damage to humans can be healed and aging is reversed regularly. If no-one dies, the planet is in danger of overpopulation. Enter Scythes – a self-governing group of individuals that are tasked with “gleaning” (i.e. permanently killing), an assigned number of people each year. The book follows two teenagers, Citra and Rowan, throughout their approximately one-year apprenticeship to become Scythes.
The worldbuilding is particularly great and I liked the excerpts from Scythe journals at the beginning of each chapter, which provided depth to some of the side characters and raised some interesting questions about the nature of death (or lack of) and how it impacts humanity. It was also interesting to learn about the different ways different Scythes approached choosing who to glean and how to do it. My only (minor) complaint was that I felt the lead characters, and their relationship, were a bit underdeveloped.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.