by Neal Shusterman
Simon & Schuster, 2016, 433 pages, Young Adult Fiction
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.
While the premise of this book is compelling, I kept putting off reading it because I wasn’t sure I would like it. But the rave reviews started rolling in, it was deemed a Printz Honor book, and it was showcased in our program, Best Books of 2016. I knew I had to see what all of the hype was about.
Shusterman is an expert storyteller, and he had me hooked from the first page. Although people live in what many would call the perfect society, envy, jealousy and greed still exist, and the motivations of the scythes are complex. While some scythes argue for humane killing methods, others consider themselves to be omnipotent, able to do anything without people questioning their authority. While I think this book works well as a stand-alone title, I’m interested to see where Shusterman takes this story with the next book of the planned trilogy.