Shusterman, Neal Scythe, 435 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2016. $19. Language: 15 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: R (large volume of killing, some graphic and bloody).
In Citra’s world, immortality has been achieved, but babies are still being born – so someone must decide who will be gleaned. That job falls to the scythes. When Citra is chosen as apprentice to Scythe Faraday, she has no idea what she really is in for – a world full of politics and intrigue that doesn’t belong in such a solemn occupation. Because Scythe Faraday has chosen two apprentices, the Conclave decides that whichever of the two is chosen to become a full-fledged scythe must immediately reap the other. If matters couldn’t get worse, Scythe Faraday dies and Rowan, the other apprentice, is taken on by Scythe Goddard, one of the worst when it comes to excesses in the course of his profession. Citra and Rowan are caught between a rock and a hard place. And still, only one of them can survive.
Shusterman has taken the topic of death – and choosing who will die – to a whole other level. It is very easy to accept the shape of this new world, but every reader will be caught in thought as they come to terms with the parameters, strictures, customs, and controversies of the job of gleaning and of the Scythes themselves. I was surprised to read that this is the beginning of a series – it feels whole, complete to me. It can only get better from here if Shusterman stays true to the pattern of his previous series (every book is better than the one before). The violence is stark is some places and overwhelming in others. As much as the students at my school adore Shusterman, I would recommend that this be left to the high school level.
HS – ESSENTIAL (read the ratings). Cindy, Library Teacher