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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

In an effort to broaden my reading horizons, I picked up the young adult title Scythe this week. 

I am SO GLAD I did.

Scythe is a dystopian novel set in the distant future. There is no war or hunger or poverty.  Technology and medicine have evolved and humans are now able to live forever.   There’s no more pain or sickness, and people can choose to reset themselves back to younger ages when they start to get old. 

The only way to actually die is to be “gleaned” by a Scythe, who are basically professional grim reapers.  It is their job to meet a certain quota of gleanings each week to prevent overpopulation.  

Each Scythe is trained in different ways to bring about death, from poison, to martial arts, to using all types of weapons. It is then up to each Scythe to administer their gleanings in the ways they see fit. 

The story follows Citra and Rowan, who are in training as apprentices under Scythe Faraday, who is fair and well respected. This is lucky for them because we soon find out that not all Scythes are fair and kind  in their gleanings.

I thought I had this story figured out about five times, and each time I was surprised when it went in a completely different direction.  

This is book one in a trilogy and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two books to see the other twists and turns the author has in store for these characters.

— Katie


Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

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 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 to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

About the Author

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including the Unwind dystology, the Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, and Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award. Scythe, the first book in his latest series, Arc of a Scythe, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. Neal is the father of four, all of whom are talented writers and artists themselves. Visit Neal at and

Praise For…

"Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman's dark tale thrusts realistic, likeable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions. A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning."
— Kirkus Reviews

"Shusterman is no stranger to pushing boundaries. Scythe owes an obvious debt to Unwind (2007) and its

sequels, and this succeeds as a sort of shadow companion to Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy: instead

of exploring the ways in which men are monsters, this deals in what happens to men when there are no

monsters. When our reach does not exceed our grasp, when comfort is more easily obtained than struggle,

when our essential humanity doesn’t burn out but becomes slowly irrelevant, what becomes of us?

Readers will find many things in these pages. Answers to such unsettling questions will not be among

— Maggie Reagan
Product Details
ISBN: 9781442472433
ISBN-10: 144247243X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 28th, 2017
Pages: 464
Language: English
Series: Arc of a Scythe