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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe - Neal Shusterman

Shusterman is the master of taking deep profound issues and addressing them through an action packed story. Like Unwind, this book will make the reader think about matters of faith, life, and death without them even realizing it.

On the surface, this is the story of a world that many people dream of. In this utopian (dystopian?) future, people do not die. Disease and aging have been defeated and man is immortal. Bodies are programmed to not feel pain or gain too much weight. Starting to feel old? "Turn the corner" and reset yourself to whatever age you prefer. Years aren't even numbered anymore because time has no real meaning.

But that's the problem. When life is made too easy and time is endless, what happens to the passion in life and the drive to make the world a better place during the time allotted to you? People have endless knowledge at their fingertips but do not use it to make themselves wise. (Alright, that might have already happened to us.)

The second problem is that people cannot just keep being born without someone making room for them, so man takes the place of God (or nature if you prefer) and the Scythedom decides who will die. Predictably, this well-meaning organization becomes corrupt, as our two main characters, teenage scythe apprentices, find out.

Besides addressing how horrible things turn out when people are given exactly what they think they want, this book puts the reader in the minds of two rather different protagonists who are offered a future that they didn't ask for, but maybe they want, but then they feel bad for wanting it. After all, what kind of person wants to be a scythe?

From there, the twists and turns in the story will keep you riveted to the page until you are begging for the next book. I have recommended Unwind as my favorite dystopian novel ever since I first read it. This is the first book to come close since then. Well done, Shusterman.