My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The world in which Citra and Rowan live in is quite different than what it once was. Crime, poverty, sickness, and other unpleasant things that once plagued the world have been wiped out by humans. Now the Thunderhead, the all-knowing database, monitors everything. Everything except death.
Scythes are the controllers of death. They get to decide who dies, when, and how. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it…Citra and Rowan just never expected that it might have to be them.
This concept of this book was both intriguing and utterly terrifying. Living for hundreds of years, never having to worry about illness or accidental death sounds ideal, doesn’t it? The deeper into the story I got, however, I began to realize how sad that kind of world must be. (Who would want to live a life that was taken for granted everyday?) More unsettling than the “perfect” futuristic setting was the concept of scythes – people with the ability to “glean” you at their own desire. Gleaning is basically just another term for murder. It isn’t viewed that way in the book, as gleaning is necessary for population control and isn’t done out of malicious intent. In my own mind it was hard to see much difference.
The scythes were definitely the most interesting characters in the story. I felt that Shusterman did an excellent job in showcasing the differences in how people respond to power. Some of the scythes, originally chosen for the sense of morality and compassion, remained humble despite their profession. The moral conundrum experienced by these characters was heartbreaking and made me grateful that I have never had to carry out anything so awful in my own life. Other scythes, over time, were drunk with fame and lost all sense of humility. The political corruption among the scythes was a haunting mirror of what happens in our own government. As if we didn’t need another reminder of truly fucked up society is.
Scythe was a good, albeit disturbing, read. The author made some very bold statements about humanity and the world we live in that made my head spin.