The Arc of a Scythe Trilogy

After letting the books grow dusty on my shelves for a year, I finally took the plunge and read Neal Shusterman’s Scythe Trilogy—Scythe, Thunderhead, and The Toll. I had only ever read one other Shusterman book–Dry–and I’m not that into dystopia anymore, but I was really drawn into this series! It was the perfect mix of dystopia and fantasy without too much mundane world building (the size of mountains, etc), I loved the premise and the little nods to our current world and literary history, and I definitely recommend this trilogy to anyone looking for a good series to settle into!

In a not-too-distant future (I think 200-ish years from now), death is no longer a thing. The world is beyond death. The Thunderhead (the cloud but better) has gotten rid of death, but in order to control the population, there are Scythes, people who are ordained to “glean” people (as they see fit, usually, but to a certain quota each year). Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch are shocked when Scythe Farraday, a well-respected Scythe, asks them to be his apprentices. But things are never as easy as they seem in a dystopia, so it becomes a comeptition: only one of them will become a scythe, and that winner will have to glean the loser. As they spend a year apprenticing under Farraday, they learn that all is not well in the Scythe world–there’s a “new” order that seems to like gleaning a little bt too much if you know what I mean? Which one of them will become a scythe—and what will they have to do for the ring?

And that’s just book 1!

I’m not going to “reveal” the spoils and all that jazz, but in book 2, the winner begins their life as a scythe, the new order gets even worse, and there’s a fancy island to visit, and in book 3, there’s a secret project underway, a big time jump, and a mission to maybe save the whole of human civilization?

And yet somehow, despite the stakes, this book also has humor. It’s got heart and compassion–thank God, am I right? The only thing I didn’t love about this series was the attempts to make the readers think Rowan and Citra were romantically interested in each other. Maybe…maybe not. IDK, teenagers, the end of the world, you know the gist.

Anyway, I loved this series! It’s a really fascinating take on the dystopia/utopia juxtaposition, uses a lot of pop culture and literary references in cool ways, and I liked the ethical questions it raises for the reader without being too esoteric.

Give it a read!

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