Review: Scythe

Thou shalt kill.
Scythe is original, chilling and thought-provoking. What is the prize for the perfect world?

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.

The first thing you find out when you grab Scythe is that Maggie Stiefvater (a young adult writer/genius) considers it “A true successor to The Hunger Games”. I dare to disagree. Admittedly, the story’s arch bears a lot of similarities to the dystopian hit, but The Hunger Games lacks the philosophical depth and mind-boggling originality Scythe possesses.

Yes, that’s right! I like Scythe much better than The Hunger Games.

In the future perfect world, humanity has achieved immortality. Hunger, disease, war and misery have all been all but eradicated by the Thunderhead, an all-knowing omnipotent AI controlling the world. I know, what a great idea! All-powerful AI’s are (in my opinion) a one-way ticket to humanity’s destruction, so I had a bad feeling from the start.
And that’s the thing with all of Neal Shusterman’s books. Like Unwind, the chilling feeling that something is very very wrong never really leaves you. What a wonderful thing to achieve with the written word. An ongoing feeling of being unsettled.

But don’t be fooled, this book is not about the new Skynet. It is about Rowan and Citra who are chosen to be apprentice scythes. The only way to die in this perfect world of immortality is to be gleaned by a professional scythe, so they have to learn the art of killing.

“Therein lies the paradox of the profession. Those who wish to have the job should not have it…and those who would most refuse to kill are the only ones who should.”

How does one live with the responsibility of ending lives? How do you choose who dies? What gives life purpose when you’re immortal? And what is the purpose of death? What is the difference between an Honorable Scythe and a killer? Are you to enjoy your service to humanity? Or do you live being tormented by your conscience? What is the perfect scythe?

“I fear for us all if scythes begin to love what they do.”

And what happens when the institution responsible for life and death becomes corrupt?

“We must always be vigilant because power comes infected with the only disease left to us: the virus called human nature.”

Scythe asks all these uncomfortable questions. I can’t tell you if it also provides any answers. You should go find out for yourselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *