I don’t know what else I expected from a book in which the synopsis on the back begins with “Thou shalt kill.” Scythe immediately begs the question as to why one has to kill and if they should be killing in the first place.
Scythe is a dystopian future book where lives are placed into the hands of teenagers. This makes sense, reasonably, or at least it’s common enough that it makes you think, sure. This is a book set in a future where every malady or problem, including death, has been taken care of.
This introduces the dilemma. The population is growing too big because no one is dying and anyone can be revived like in a video game. The scythes, those allowed to kill, are created to maintain a sustainable population size.
So far, Shusterman has created a normal dystopian plot. Then you actually meet the scythes and you realize this isn’t a perfectly normal dystopian plot at all. While I expected some sort of button or humane way of ending some old person’s life, what I got was no rules in the scythedom on how to kill, only rules on how many.
Scythe is not a book about a corrupt government. It’s not a book in which the rules are corrupt either. The rules of this society were created so that those designated to take lives would do so fairly, unbiased, and without cruelty. Those chosen to be scythes are chosen because of their sympathy and respect for the reasoning behind death.
This is a book about the cruelty of mankind versus the sympathetic. It’s about those allowed into power and the damage they can do. It’s about morality and ethics — about what it means to be human. What’s the true nature of mankind? If there is no death, what is the point of life?
Sometimes I like reading books that involve no real thought that I can escape into, but sometimes, like in this case, I like reading books that make you think about yourself and the possible future.
The plot and characters are compelling in their journey to accept the responsibility of being a scythe. It’s full of adventure and excitement. As thrown off guard as I was about its subtle — and sometimes not so subtle — debate of ethics, I was able to delve straight into the story. I found it interesting even without that element.
The book ends with some sort of finality, but as a trilogy, there is still a lot that I want to explore in this universe. There’s plenty of potential for where the characters can go and I look forward to reading more.