Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional reapers ('scythes'). Two teens must compete with each other to become a scythe--a position neither of them wants. The one who becomes a scythe must kill the one who doesn't"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781442472426
Branch Call Number: YF SHUST-N
Characteristics: 433 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

"In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional reapers ('scythes'). Two teens must compete with each other to become a scythe--a position neither of them wants. The one who becomes a scythe must kill the one who doesn't... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Apr 06, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. At its heart, it was a book about human nature - particularly power and corruption (because the scythes truly have absolute power in this world - even if they are supposed to self-regulate).

People tend to think of prolonging life as a good thing. But, at some point, if people were able to live forever but still wanted to have children, overpopulation would be an issue. This book addresses one way to handle that - with all its pros and cons.

I thought that the characters were well developed except for the romance - which felt throwaway and unearned. Basically, the two lead characters are of opposite gender so they fall in love. But it's mostly glossed over that so that you aren't actually invested in the relationship at all. And is it even really a relationship?

Barring that, this is an excellent book addressing an interesting scenario in a compelling way. Highly recommend.

Mar 21, 2018

Well, I must confess myself slightly disappointed. Only slightly, this is still a 3-star book, mind you. For all the hype this book got I really did go in expecting a lot more than I got, which may have contributed to this book's downfall.

The writing is okay. It's fine, it's whatever. It's not particularly good in any way but I have no qualms with the writing.

The concept is fantastic. Totally up my alley in every possible way, but the delivery did fall a bit flat, unfortunately. The worldbuilding was pretty good, but I swear I found so many holes in the world that it drove me up the wall. I spent a lot of the time reading this book thinking about all the loopholes and little rifts that didn't quite add up in this world that Shusterman made. Not really what I like to be thinking about when reading a book.

As for the characters, they were alright. Scythe Curie is a gem, and I do like Citra and Scythe Faraday of course but overall the characters just weren't what I needed them to be. I felt no particular emotional investment in anyone, and thus didn't much care for anything that happened. I do have to say that I really appreciate strong female characters. I really did like that.

I found myself liking the plot twists well enough, and I did like the ending. I will definitely be reading the next book, and am very curious to see what happens.

LoganLib_Kirra Jan 31, 2018

In the future people no longer fear death anymore with the ability to revive anyone and the elimination of disease, war and crime. So how do people’s lives come to an end? By the hand of a professional reaper, a scythe.

This book was one of the most fascinating, thrilling and surprising stories I've ever read with a constantly changing dynamic and quick witted characters. Neal Shusterman presents Young Adult fiction at its finest with great character development and suspenseful writing that always packs a punch and holds you captivated on each page.

I was constantly surprised by the events in this book and midway through I thought something totally predictable had happened but it was just a ploy to trick me and it surprised me again! It was also extremely detailed and scary at times with some of the characters so there was a fantastic parallel between the good and fair characters.

This is mind-blowing, don't care what other ratings say. This is beautifully written and is a must read. Concept makes sense and characters are designed with skill and make sense

JCLChrisK Nov 30, 2017

I could see how someone might label this future-set book a dystopia, except I don't think that's accurate since this world's utopia is still pretty utopian. Society is functioning, no one's particularly oppressed, and everyone's basically content. There's one small group that functions outside the bounds of society, though, a fairly ascetic group with a special, practical purpose. It's in this realm that some cracks are beginning to show, and where the bulk of the story takes place.

A story that is equally adventurous and thoughtful. It's a meditation on mortality given shape and adrenaline through the lives of its two teen protagonists.

Scythe is a consideration of the future; of, at least, one of the forms it might take. Immortality and bliss have been achieved. Humans can be revived from all but the most extreme deaths. Pain and emotions are moderated. Illness is unheard of. Aging can be erased with a procedure on a whim at any time. No one wants for anything.

Divinity has been achieved in the form of the Thunderhead, a worldwide artificial intelligence evolved from the Cloud. It is benevolent and oversees the well-being of humanity and the planet. One part of ensuring the Thunderhead's benevolence is its protocol of life--all human deaths shall be reversed; none shall be caused. However, humans continue to multiply while the planet's habitable space remains finite. Thus, a quandary.

The solution is the scythes. A group of people removed from society and cut off from the Thunderhead to live under their own rules, with the purpose of randomly inserting a measure of death into the system. They "glean" the population to keep humanity's size manageable. While not quite a religious order, they live by a very strict set of rules to keep their motives and actions pure.

Even such rigidly defined strictures leave wiggle room and space for interpretation, though. So when Citra and Rowen are selected by a scythe to train as his apprentices, they learn about the various philosophies, factions, and political maneuverings that exists within the Scythedom. And, as one might expect from an order tasked with death, maneuverings can be deadly. They go into their year of preparation knowing they'll emerge as different people, but nothing can prepare them for all of the situations that will arise or challenges they'll face or just how changed they'll be by the end of it. Or how the Scythedom will change with them.

Not quite a dystopia, still fairly utopian, but subject to human nature all the same. And stories of human nature in action are usually the most captivating. This is one of the better ones.

Oct 30, 2017

One of those really good books that leaves you pondering after you're done, but still feeling a sense of completion to the story. I really enjoyed both characters, and appreciated feeling the anguish as the one I connected with more drifted further and further from their roots. A wonderful read.

Aug 24, 2017

What interests me most about Scythe is that it presents us with a "post-mortal" society with truly utopian elements (death and disease have been cured, and all major societal problems have been solved), but it then questions whether utopia is actually best for humanity. Do we need the threat of death in order to feel alive? Do we need the possibility of war in order to appreciate peace? If there wasn't a sector of society set apart from this utopia (the Scythdom), would there even be a meaningful story to tell on this world? The main story with the warring Scythe factions was interesting and entertaining, but it was the details and philosophies of the world that fascinated me.

May 22, 2017

Oh. My. GOD
I finished this book in 4 hours (I'm a quick reader) without stop.
It was incredibly good.
The author made you feel so many different emotions and it was awesome.
I don't have enough words for this book.
It was amazing to read and, just, UGH.

I loved this book so much!!

Apr 26, 2017

There are a lot of practical world-building questions that can be raised about Scythe. How, for example, has humanity advanced so far as to be able to reverse the aging process, but been unable to master space travel, or some other method of supporting an increasing population? And if it is necessary to limit the population, why kill people in often gruesome ways to achieve that end? If you are the nit-picking type, you will probably have a hard time accepting the basic premise of this novel and some of the devices. But if you can achieve the necessary willing suspension of disbelief, you are in for a twisty and thought-provoking adventure that continually ups the stakes.

Full review:

Apr 06, 2017

While the premise was good, I didn't enjoy the play out of the story. I did, however, enjoy reading from Citra's point of view on things, while Rowan's story was a little more than dull. This futuristic world that Shusterman wrote is certainly an interesting one. With how everything played out, I ended up not liking Scythe as much as I thought I would. -- I did enjoy the ending though.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

LoganLib_Kirra Feb 04, 2018

LoganLib_Kirra thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 06, 2017

sleepybookworm thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Jan 22, 2017

white_dove_454 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jan 15, 2017

black_pony_62 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Quote

JCLChrisK Nov 30, 2017

No one rages against the system anymore. At most, they just glare at it a bit.

Apr 26, 2017

She wanted to believe she wasn’t capable of it. She desperately wanted to believe she wasn’t Scythe material. It was the first time in her life that she aspired to fail.


Add a Summary

Apr 26, 2017

It has been three hundred years since humanity turned the corner, leaving behind the Age of Mortality. With the arrival of infinite computing power, a benevolent AI known as the Thunderhead emerged to rule this new deathless society. But although accidental death is a thing of the past, humanity still lives on a single finite planet, and so population growth must be limited. This task was deemed to require a human conscience, not to be entrusted to a computer, and so the Scythedom was born. Citra and Rowan have been selected to apprentice to Scythe Faraday, a job that neither of them wants. But there is corruption at the heart of Scythedom, and the Thunderhead is powerless to intervene. Reform must come from within.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at TPL

To Top