In truth, this is really a series of the month, as November brought the concluding book, The Toll, to Neal Shusterman’s thrilling Arc of a Scythe trilogy.
A few hundred years into the future, humanity has conquered death, disease and poverty. With the help of a much more advanced artificial intelligence, called the Thunderhead, crime (as we know it) has been rendered to the mortal-age, and the only threat to humanity is that of over-population.
“Shusterman defies this and all other expectations, by writing a fascinating, fast-paced and entirely absorbing trilogy”
As a result, “Scythes” are a select number of individuals who are appointed to ethically and humanely kill people, in order to maintain an appropriate cohort size. In this setting, we follow two teenagers, Citra and Rowan, as they become apprenticed to Scythe Faraday, a renowned and revered member of the Scythedom. But while many Scythes like Faraday accept their positions humbly and with compassion, there are an increasing number who find they rather enjoy the more gruesome aspects of the job…
After The Hunger Games, and the many different young adult dystopian/utopian books that populated shelves seemingly overnight, it did feel like there could be no room for a fresh perspective on the post-apocalyptic-type genre. And yet, somehow, Shusterman defies this and all other expectations, by writing a fascinating, fast-paced and entirely absorbing trilogy.
“Thunderhead […] truly has the most epic cliffhanger ending I have ever read”
Admittedly, when I started the first book in the series, Scythe, I had doubts about how original this story could be. It felt like every young adult book I picked up included two or more teenagers in a competition for something like a job or an item, and they would have to complete various trials in order to achieve their goal. Initially, I thought that Scythe was going to follow that same path – until it took a sharp turn, and suddenly Shusterman literally had the world to play with.
It’s difficult to discuss Scythe, or any of its successors, without spoiling them – especially, the sequel, Thunderhead, which truly has the most epic cliffhanger ending I have ever read – but I can assure you that Shusterman has thought about every aspect of what an immortal world might look like. He considers how religion would come into play and what government systems might look like, and does so while discussing themes of mortality and morality.
“Shusterman’s writing style is surprisingly accessible and reads almost like a religious text”
Though this could have easily predisposed to pretention, Shusterman’s writing style is surprisingly accessible and reads almost like a religious text in the way he phrases things. The series is a joy to read, because you spend most of it in awe at how Shusterman continues to surprise you with ideas and plot points you could have never predicted. If you’re looking for a book, or a series, to throw you into the best kind of existential crisis, I cannot recommend Scythe and the Arc of a Scythe trilogy enough.
Featured image courtesy of Neal Shusterman Official Facebook Page.
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