Thursday, May 4, 2017

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I discovered Neal Shusterman because of TBF, I think. Or maybe I discovered him right before a TBF several years ago. Either way, I definitely met him at a TBF and he is one of my author boyfriends. He doesn’t know that, so mums the word. Anyway, Mr. Shusterman wrote one of my favorite series (Unwind) and one of my favorite YA stand-alones (Bruiser). His previous book Challenger Deep was a good book but not my favorite so I was hesitant to jump into Scythe for fear that this would be author-hero-letdown. BUT NO! It’s definitely got the deep-if-you-think-about-it political commentary that I loved from Unwind along with his usual swept away in the story OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT piece. Mr. Shusterman doesn’t shy away from the feels and I’m glad I forged ahead.

Oh, maybe I should actually mention something about the book. Duh.

This book is about a world with no disease or natural dead. All the problems of the world have been solved, people can turn back their biological age at will, and the government has been replaced by an all knowing super computer type situation. Scythes are a group of humans who choose people to kill each year to meet a quota and help stem over-population. Cestra and Rowan are chosen by an old dude to be competing Scythe apprentices precisely because they don’t want the job. The more into the world of the Scythes they go, the more evident the corruption within this “problem-less” system.

The book is fast paced. Well. It's quickly paced in most spots, it's not like there are bombs going off all the time, or anything. But the story moves. Here's a graph from Anne that I thinks sums it up. 
It's told in alternating observations between Cestra and Rowan, with pages from the diary of Scythes in- between offering some insights into both Scythedom as well as into the world of the book.

In this world, people know their racial/ ethnic make-up as a matter of course. There is some allusion to facial features that lean more toward one background or another but part of the world's goals are such that no one really has too much of anything, and several of the Scythes are reprimanded for killing or saving too many people who are poor, or of higher racial content than another, or who are ugly. So, this is one of those books that earns a wobbly WNDB sticker from me, not because it doesn't address it well or because it ignores it, but because, being dystopian fantasy, it's not a context that actually exists now. Making it hard to compare to other kinds of books/ stories. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts about this.

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