Author: Neal Shusterman
Synopsis: A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death.
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.
Spoiler Free Review
This was such a good book. I find the concept of it so intriguing. I haven’t had the best luck with dystopian for quite awhile so I was definitely happy that I liked this book so much. The characters were well rounded and their development as the book went on was very well done.
The book takes place in a society where everyone has everything and wants for nothing. There is a computer interface named the Thunderhead that proceeds over everything and makes sure everything is in order and working well. One of the major things is that society has mastered death. By this, there are no more natural deaths. Instead to keep the population in check certain people perform gleanings. Gleanings, in other words, is killing. Chosen people have a quota for how many people they glean, and who they choose is up to them as long as bias is not shown. These people are known as Scythes. Scythes are chosen after going through an apprenticeship and trials and if chosen, they will become a Scythe.
Citra and Rowan are both chosen by Honorable Scythe Faraday as apprentices. Either both of them will pass and become Scythes or whoever doesn’t pass will go back to their life. Through their apprenticeships both Citra and Rowan will be tested, physically and mentally, as well as questioning what they know. The book alternates between their point of view so we get to see the contrast in how they view the training process and the thoughts of becoming a Scythe.
Citra is the first character that we meet in the book. She is a strong and intelligent character. She was a very strong minded and didn’t stray away from asking questions that might later get her reprimanded. Citra’s growth wasn’t as big as Rowans but as a character I found myself liking her more. Citra meets Scythe Faraday when he asks Citra’s mother to provide food for him while he waits to glean their neighbor. When Citra comes across Scythe Faraday, she is both frightened by the thought that someone in her family will be gleaned(her family didn’t know he was going to glean their neighbor until after he left) but she is also intrigued and the combination of this is what peaked Scythe Faraday’s interest in taking her on as an apprentice.
Rowan is the character we meet next. Rowan views himself as “the lettice” meaning no one really pays attention to him and easily overlooked. As Rowan continues to train for possibly becoming a scythe, he begins to see the act of gleaning and becoming a scythe rather differently and this leads to his development on a rather morally-grey path. When Rowan first meets Scythe Faraday at his school. Scythe Faraday has come to glean the star quarterback at his school. Instead of letting the kid die alone, he joins him and holds him when he dies. His compassion is what peaked Scythe Faraday’s interest in taking Rowan on as an apprentice.
This book had a bit of a slow pacing and it was a bit difficult to get through for me. This book took me about a week and a half to read which a bit long for me with a book that has around 400 pages. I found myself skimming some parts because I just wanted to finish the book and figure out who becomes an apprentice. The pacing is really the reason as to why I am giving this 4 stars instead of 5.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I found the world building and the writing to be very well done. Though I did favor one character of another, I did enjoy both characters and enjoyed their development. I am very much looking forward to reading book two!
So, in the end Citra becomes the scythe(which is who I wanted to win) and I was very curious to see who she would choose as her Historic Patron. Now earlier in the book I started thinking who I would choose if I was to become a Scythe and I decided it would be either Marie Antoinette or Anastasia Romanov. Now when I read who Citra choose I had a huge fangirl kind of moment. My favorite character chose my favorite princesses as her Historic Patron and I was just freaking out. I also loved the reason she gave as to why she chose Anastasia Romanov as her Historic Patron because it is very true and sad. So yeah, that is all I wanted to say. 🙂