Book Review: SCYTHE (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

A world with no crime but a lot of murder.





In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes’ apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser.



Title: Scythe

Series: Arc of  a Scythe #1

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publication: November 22, 2016 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia

Target audience: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK* | Book Depository

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Rating: 🌵🌵🌵 ½

For some reason, I didn’t quite expect that much murder. Yeah ok, kinda weird of me, considering the synopsis and all but let me explain:

With the Scythes looking like the Grim Reaper and the actual killing only being referred to as ‘gleaning’, I assumed this book would be more of a fantasy. ‘Gleaning’ would not be like the killing we know, but maybe just taking the soul or whatever.

Alas, I was wrong and I am glad for that.

Because having government approved (wait, there’s no government – society approved?) professionals literally murdering random people is even more morbid.


No disease. No war. No crime. No government. A world controlled completely by the Thunderhead – also known to us as the Internet, but now in sentient. Humans’ former fear of A.I. taking over the world is seen as silly. Why would you be afraid of the Thunderhead? It has accomplished all that humanity could not.

And yet there is one area where the Thunderhead is not allowed to interfere: the Scythedom. Which also happens to be the only institution where corruption still exists.

The Scythedom oversees the scythes. It was founded to control population growth, since people are practically immortal now.

I really like the worldbuiling in this one. It’s refreshing to see a positive representation of A.I.. We humans don’t always know what’s best for us.


Citra and Rowan are both chosen to be scythe apprentices by Sycthe Faraday, whom they met earlier. They are reluctant – they don’t want to glean people – and yet they come with him.

I was totally hooked the first 100 pages. This was such an interesting world and concept, I wanted nothing more than to love it.

The middle part dragged on a bit, unfortunately. Reading about an apprenticeship just isn’t much fun.

But the last 200 pages I literally devoured. There’s finally some action happening and some plot twists. I actually found one of them so fucking obvious, but it didn’t make reading it any less enjoyable.


I love Rowan. He’s my adorable lettuce boy. I don’t understand his infatuation with Citra but whatever (I’ll elaborate on that later).

Rowan is a pretty unremarkable kid. He was born into a big family and thinks himself to be of no importance to them, thus lettuce-kid. He’s got a best friend but otherwise he tries to stay out of other peoples’ businesses.

Towards the end of the book, he becomes so badass. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say that Rowan is the reason why I want to read the sequel.

Citra and I aren’t the best of friends. Our relationship is similar to the one I have with the book: I liked Citra just fine in the beginning, disliked her in the middle of the book and liked her at the end of it.

Why? Everytime we see her from Rowan’s point of view or just when they’re both interacting with each other, she is an absolute bitch. I don’t know why, but that’s how it is. This is also the reason why I don’t understand the romance between the two of them. It’s not even a big part of the book, but it bothered me so much. They have no chemistry. It feels like they’re barely even friends. And why the fuck is Rowan so enamored with Citra, when she is an asshole in his presence? Someone explain, please.

The only other noteworthy characters would be Scythe Faraday, Scythe Curie and Scythe Goddard.

Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie are the good guys. To me, that’s kind of funny. Because they’re still scythes and they still kill people. In the beginning we see them as horrible, but further into the book they become the good guys, because there are apparently even worse scythes.

One of them is Scythe Goddard. He is one of the scythes that enjoys killing. Nothing more to say about him. He’s your average villain. Not relatable, spouting nonsense and no real motive. Forgettable.

It was much more interesting to see the ‘good guys’ struggling to justify their actions, while actually despising them themselves.

All in all, this was a good book and I look forward to reading the sequel (and I got a feeling it’s going to be better than this one).



Damn, look at this gorgeous art by nanfe1789


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"Rightmindedness is overrated, I'd rather have a mind that's clean than one that's right" If I was a Scythe, I'd probably be Goddard, nothing special, I just like violence and fuck things up with style. I finished the book last month, you can check my thoughts in my goodreads (nanfe) or my random account @hoaiminh1789 . I particular like those mass gleaning scenes, especially the first one in the plane, imagine you were taking a shit in a mall, and a Scythe knocked on the door, informed you "this place has been selected for gleaning, our method will be as our mood suits us." then he drew out a fucking machete lulz. Rowan Damisch from "Scythe" by @nealshusterman. Inspired by the cover of "Thunderhead", currently waiting for the book to come together with many other ones. #nanfeart #scythe #thunderhead #scythenovel #arcofascythe #sciencefiction #fantasy #rowandamisch

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One thought on “Book Review: SCYTHE (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

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