*Mini-Post by the Belle*
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe
Summary: 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 a 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 a scythe – a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking a life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Belle Rating: B+
Target Audience: Young Adults
Story Notes: I’m going to tell you now, this book will not be everyone’s cup of tea. The story is centered around death…more specifically people killing other people in a number of ways…but I gotta say, I found it oddly fascinating and entertaining. (That sounds bad doesn’t it??) Moving on, the story is centered around two teens: Citra and Rowan. One way or another, they both seem to catch the attention of Scythe Faraday, a pretty famous scythe. He is in the market for an apprentice and the first qualifier for the job is you gotta hate it. And like any decent minded person they are both repulsed by the thought of taking a life. Unfortunately for them, they not only have to leave behind everything they know, but they have to follow and watch as their mentor “gleans” (kills) people for a whole year (…yay). They learn the rules of being a scythe and what is expected of them if they become one. They should perform their gruesome tasks without any bias and with as much mercy as one could muster while remaining professional. After a series of tests at the end of the year, one of them will be chosen to become a scythe while the other walks away back to their mundane lives. However, as the year progresses, Citra and Rowan are able to see that the younger generation of scythes seem to be…enjoying their work…and some of these younger scythes cause the stakes to be raised in the competition between Citra and Rowan: the winner will be forced to glean the loser…who will win? Who will die? And will Citra and/or Rowan be swayed by the beliefs of the younger generation of scythes?
Writing Style: It is very clean and the characters are well developed. I had a very easy time following the story as Citra and Rowan progressed in their studies of becoming a scythe. And you get to meet several scythes and each of them have their own style of killing people, which while a bit terrifying is pretty cool in my opinion. Most importantly, though, this book will really make you think about where our society is heading now. I don’t think we will ever achieve immortality… but what if we did? How would we deal with that?? Would we resort to something similar to what is happening in the book??? Would that be ethical? Who’s to say.
Weaknesses: While the book is really good, the ending and the events leading up to it were very unexpected. Like I thought the story was going one way but then went totally off the rails and went down a dirt path no one knew about. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but the only way to find out is if I continue to read the series (which is something I will definitely do!!)
Strengths: Everything! The characters, the story, just everything!
Final Thoughts: As I have said many times before, if you don’t like a lot of death, this isn’t the book for you. But it’s really good and is at the top of my list of book recommendations 🙂 so give it a try!