Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
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.
Having just finished my first re-read of Scythe I’m reminded of just how much I freaking love this series. I didn’t write a review after the first time I read the book and there was actually a lot that I actually forgot (not surprising considering my trash memory). In a way it kind of felt like I was reading it for the first time and wow, it was just as crazy a ride as the first time!
“The growth of civilization was complete. Everyone knew it. When it came to the human race, there was no more left to learn. Nothing about our own existence to decipher. Which meant that no one person was more important than any other. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, everyone was equally useless.”
The world building thrilled me. I thought it would be difficult to imagine a world where mortality is a thing of the past but Shusterman builds it up nicely and we learn more about it through chapters split with journal entries and various POVs. Can you imagine a world where there’s no disease, war and crime? Where you essentially have access to and can get anything (literally anything) that you want? Where there’s no hunger and desperation? Where people ‘splat’ (i.e. kill themselves in crazy ways) for fun because you’ll just be revived (at a cost, but money ain’t no thang) and the only way you can really die is at the hands of Scythes? I mean, it sounds like a utopia right? But is immortality really so great when you have nothing to truly strive for? You can keep turning your physical body back to a younger age, but when there’s not much “use” for your life, what do you actually have to live for? I wasn’t expecting to ponder these questions when I started reading this YA sci-fi but Shusterman really makes you think about whether having such a “perfect society” would really be so great.
What surprised me though was how long it actually took me to get through the first half of the book. Granted, I wasn’t reading very much this week, but when I would read I felt as if I never made much progress until the last 30-40% of the book. While I enjoyed reading about this world, there was admittedly a lot of initial info dumping in long stretches with little to no action. But honestly, the premise was just so intriguing to me that it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the overall story and once the action got going I was hanging on dearly to the edge of my seat!
The story centers on two main characters: Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch. Citra was a sharp, level-headed and tough girl who had no trouble speaking her mind. I liked how strong-willed she was, but she sometimes came across as cold and petulant which slightly irritated me. On the other hand, I really liked Rowan from the first time we meet him. As the middle child in a family with way too many kids, he’s used to being overlooked. He’s the quiet, soft-spoken observer which makes him keenly aware of peoples’ natures. There’s something so endearing about his character that really pulled me to him (maybe it’s the fact that I’m more like him as a middle child too). Out of the two he went through the most growth and although it was often heartbreaking to see happen, I was always still rooting for him to do the right thing. Two other characters that I also loved were Scythe Curie and Scythe Faraday. They were fantastically sharp and witty mentors and my love for them grew as we learned a bit more of their backstories.
“It reminds me that in spite of our lofty ideals and the many safeguards to protect the Scythedom from corruption and depravity, we must always be vigilant, because power comes infected with the only disease left to us: the virus called human nature.”
It’s been a while since I’ve felt such rage towards a villain as I did towards Scythe Goddard. He’s despicable in every sense of the word. Like, the whole time I just really wanted him to die? Lol In a world where the Scythes are required to not enjoy the act of gleaning, it’s a wonder to me how he even became one in the first place. Maybe Goddard didn’t start out being this prideful (and just all around nasty) but we didn’t get much of his backstory and I think it would’ve been quite interesting to see how he became this way. Or maybe it was just inevitable that in a perfect world that’s run by the all-knowing and impartial Thunderhead, the only place where the ugly side of human nature would rear it’s head is where the Thunderhead cannot interfere: within the Scythedom.
The reason I took off half a star was because there was a very smol romance plot that I didn’t really feel. While the two characters had chemistry and it was by no means insta love, I didn’t feel that the build up, which was a bit vague, was there for a romance. I wish we got to see more interactions between the two so that the romance felt shown more than told.
“Mortals fantasied that love was eternal and its loss unimaginable. Now we know neither is true. Love remained mortal, while we became eternal.”
Overall though this was a great first book to a sci-fi series that I think will take a permanent position in my list of all time favourite YA series. From what I remember of how I felt after reading book two, I know I’m in for a world of frustration and pain reading Thunderhead, but I’m looking forward to it so I can finish this exciting and thought-provoking series.
Have you read Ink and Bone or is it on your TBR?