Quite a few books by Neal Shusterman have very dark premises. Despite this, the books are not dark to the extent of being edgy. Many of his books are made from possible ‘what-if’ scenarios humans may face that are a bit extraordinary , and even a bit shocking.
Yet, I find myself picking up more of his books as time goes on. When I get into a habit reading less, whether it be for school or fun enjoyment—or if I’m waiting on the new Peculiar Children series book by Ransom Riggs, my favorite author– I tend to turn to Shusterman’s books.
To show a sense of how dark the books can get, his other book series Unwind, for example, features involuntary donations, where healthy teens are required to sacrifice themselves in order to keep other people alive. In Dry, there’s a severe water storage and people risk their lives–and even fight one another– in order to survive.
I’ve sat in one of the author’s panels at Book Con 2018, and have found that he is as well spoken as he is a writer. The concepts of his books, although very dark, do have lessons behind them on the topics of humanity, morals, and mortality.
Shusterman’s books are both immersive with many memorable quotes. I find myself highlighting many moments in this book and right when I finished Scythe, I picked up the next copy of the trilogy right away.
But what is Scythe all about?
In the dystopian world of Sycthe, people do not die from natural causes, sickness, or by accidents. People do not struggle from poverty and seem to life peaceful lives on the surface. But Scythes, individuals who were made with grim reapers in mind, keep the population in check.
The story centers on two main characters, Roman and Citra. Both characters do not want to become scythes, but both are required to become apprentices. They eventually go on separate paths while their morals are tested.
I found that this book was hard to put down. It is about a 450 page book and in person, it’s about the size of a brick. Regardless, there are brief journal entries and short but snippy chapters, which help keep the pace quick but engaging.
The weakest part of the book did have to be the main villain. I read this book for a Young Adult Literature course and one of my classmates remarked that the antagonist reminded them of a cliche ‘mustache twirling villain.’ I could see the villain’s flaws and am hoping that they are able to develop more as a character, possibly with some backstory behind their motives.
Thoughts on the villain aside, I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this trilogy, Thunderhead. The final part of this trilogy called Toll is set to release fall of 2019.