Book Reviews

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I am so glad I finally started Scythe! I went to a book event of Shusterman’s in October and it’s been a book I wanted to read since then. Scythe is a book about death, morality, and the future of society.


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

In a world where humans are responsible for ending lives, you know there are going to be problems. With any human-made system, there will be the danger of corruption, biases, and ambition. Scythe takes this question of ethics, setting it in a SF dystopia setting, to ask questions about how we try to change systems and how eradicating death and accidental deaths fundamentally changes our society.

What kept me reading Scythe was the world building. How does the eradication of death change our cultural psyche? Our own interpretations of happiness? Of the future, families, and love? I’ve always heard that suffering and fear make joy and triumph taste sweeter. But in a society without the fear of death (in the same way as today), how do we come to value life? Where does humanity go next?

Scythe is, above all, thought provoking. It asks us questions about our morality in the face of eternity. Even though there’s more deliberation, there’s still a little luck to it. Scythe is a character study. While only people who don’t want to be a Scythe should, ultimately, be a Scythe to ensure the system remains ethical, you know with humans nothing is ever simple. There exists corruption, biases, and cruel intentions. Our two main characters, Rowan and Citra are training to be Scythes. They allow us to see an outsider perspective into the foundation of the system, the conflict of differing perspectives, and the spread of decay.

How can we change a system? In a world where our fears have fundamentally changed? Where we believe ourselves to be over the law, to be worthy of reverence. In a world where we believe ourselves to be untouchable. Find Scythe on Goodreads, Amazon (UK), Walker Books, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite dystopia?

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2 thoughts on “Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

  1. This is a really good review! I LOVED reading Scythe because it is extremely character driven. And all the morality issues, what do you do in a world where there isn’t really death? Or where the only death is the death you’re assigned to randomly? Something I’m excited for with the other books too.

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