Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Scythe is set in a futuristic post-mortal age in which death and disease have been eliminated, along with crime, war, and government. Instead, society is ruled by a virtual cloud called The Thunderhead. Because, theoretically, everyone is immortal, the population is controlled by an elite group known as Scythes who are each responsible for “gleaning” a specific quota based on statistics from the “Age of Mortality.”
Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, both sixteen, are chosen to be apprenticed to Scythe Faraday. They will live and train with him for a year, after which Scythe Faraday will select one of them to become a junior Scythe. Ironically, they are competing for a role neither of them wants. In a shocking turn of events, it is decided by the Scythedom that, because Scythe Faraday has taken the unusual step of selecting two apprentices, they will increase the level of competition between Citra and Rowan. The apprentice selected to wear the ring of a Scythe will have to glean the unsuccessful candidate immediately.
Meanwhile, the Scythedom appears to be breaking into factions. The “Old Guard” respects the traditions of the role while those Scythes calling for a “New Order” are more interested in celebrity and killing. This new, growing movement is led in particular by the charismatic Scythe Goddard who prefers mass gleanings and large parties.
When Scythe Faraday disappears, Citra and Rowan are reassigned. Citra is apprenticed to Scythe Curie and spends her time learning about the compassion and honour that have long been part of the Scythe code. Rowan is apprenticed to Scythe Goddard and is beaten, threatened, and trained as a killer.
Citra begins to investigate Scythe Faraday’s disappearance and uncovers information that threatens the Scythedom and puts her in even more danger than her competition with Rowan.
Scythe fascinated and engaged me from the very first page. It is filled with intrigue and emotion. It also challenged me to think deeply about power, society, and ethical issues. I look forward to diving into the sequel, Thunderhead.
I highly recommend this for teen readers who like to be immersed in new worlds while considering themes and topics relevant to today’s society.