Scythe By: Neal Shusterman
Audiobook narrated by: Greg Tremblay
Book 1: Arc of a Scythe
Every day, Audible.com (part of the Amazon group), offers one book at a huge discount. Often it’s an older book or a classic which, if I missed it along the way, I may buy. Sometimes, I read it years ago, so listening to it in Audio can be a treat … like a movie with all the “action” in my own head. More often, it will be the first book in a series. Pay a few dollars for the audiobook, get hooked, and then you will buy the rest of them. I’ve gotten into a lot of really good series this way and I like it because I run out of books rather more often than I would like. Also, as the years have gone on, I’ve gotten pickier about what I want to read. The world has gotten so outrageous and kind of terrible, I’m looking not for great literature, but for entertainment. If it is going to inform me, it is also going to amuse me or I simply won’t read it.
Scythe is Neal Shusterman’s first entry into a series called, as it turns out, “Arc of a Scythe” and it’s about (you guessed it) the guys who go out and kill people for a living. Humankind, in this world, has perfected medicine. No one dies of disease or disaster. Whatever happens to you — including having your spine snapped or falling off a 120 story building — they can fix you. People age, but very slowly.
No one has to work particularly hard because a giant computer — the Monsterhead (it was a cloud, but it grew to godlike proportions) has taken over the care, feeding, and entire management of the human race. Also mankind was feeling a bit hinky about it in the beginning, the giant computer has been a pretty good god … rather a lot better than the old-fashioned ones from “The Old Days.”
But death … that was a problem. What with medicine having been perfected and no one dying of disease or age or accident, something needed to be done to keep the population in check.
And so a group of men and women were created to take care of this problem. Monsterhead — as a machine — did not feel equipped to handle killing people. He — or really “it” — felt this was a human job for humans to manage. The Scythes were born. A set of rules was created and people were scythed as needed. There wasn’t any particular reason for the reaping. Crime was gone because no one had any reason to be a criminal. Sometimes people who behaved dangerously or just badly were reaped because they were the kind of people who would have done themselves in anyway. More often, it was just … your turn. No reason, but your file came up and a Scythe came to your house and done you in. Quickly, with no fuss or mess.
Even in the most perfect of scheme, the can be “issues” and the Scythes are not perfect. They are Scythes now, but they were people first and a few of them are perhaps “over-eager” and enjoy killing too much. Some of them, in a need to make themselves eve more godlike than they already are — which is pretty godlike — grant too many favors. Reprieves, given for a year or sometimes forever for families of the Scythes themselves.
Being a Scythe is a powerful position not only because it brings death, but also because Scythes have essentially unlimited wealth to go with their power — and therein lies the rub.
This has turned out to be an interesting story and a pretty good mystery. I wasn’t expecting much. I love science fiction and fantasy, but so much of the newer material is the same old stuff. Tired old plots and tired old characters. This is something new and a little different. The plot is a standard mystery of who killed who and I’ve seen it before on a lot of cop shows over the years. But the setting is quite different and the world in which it is happening is nicely unique. I’m also glad it’s a series. Many of my favorite series seem to have run out and I’ve been looking for something new.
This is new. It’s nicely ghoulish, a tiny bit sexy (not much — don’t go looking for the hot parts because there aren’t any), and the world creation is not absolutely original, but pretty close. Actually, it reminds me somewhat of the world in “City” … but it takes place entirely on earth.
If you are intrigued by the idea of a horde of reaping Scythes as the wild card that will send you to whatever may lie on the other side, this is a good one. Well written, nicely narrated too. Available as a hardcover book from Amazon and probably other booksellers as well. A nice, well-written fantasy. No magic … just really super advanced computers which might just as well be magic.
British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke formulated three adages known as Clarke’s Three Laws:
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Categories: Audiobook, Book Review, Books, Sci Fi - Fantasy - Time Travel, Supernatural
This is written by one of the biggest name in contemporary literature for teens. All of his books are extremely well done in both content and form. Glad you enjoyed.
Glad I didn’t know it was a YA book! I might not have read it. But it was really good and creative and different. I’m looking forward to the next one!
Well, this reblog and press it thing is disturbing. I was using it all the time to post things over to Sunday Night Blog.
Yes, it is. And I checked. It really DOESN’T work anymore. So it’s back to reblog. Bummer. Because you can’t put a reblog into drafts.
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I adored this book and can’t wait for the next installment due out I early 2018. Actually, though, if you liked the feel of this one, I would recommend Shustermann’s Unwind Dystology. I think it the absolute top of the sci fi dystopian YA surge from the past several years. Chilling and thought-provoking and basically wonderful.
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This was a real surprise for me, so I’m ready to take a look at other stuff he has written. Nice to find a new author.
I read this one last year and loved it.
I was surprised. I was expecting one more drab copy of something someone wrote long ago … but it’s good. I’ve enjoyed it … enough to want to get the next one and see if it’s equally good.
Agree, haven’t seen a sequel, have you?
There is one on the way, they are saying … and there are other books. But not yet.