Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal ShustermanIn the not too distant future, humanity has eliminated disease, hunger, war, and even obtained immortality. There is just one problem: overpopulation.

People cannot be killed. We just get taken to reviving centers and are out of commission for a day or two at the most, but we can be “gleaned” by a scythe. Since much of humanity has become stagnant, bored, or indifferent toward the world and the people in it, it became a necessary and invaluable service that scythes provided. Gleaning may be conducted in various ways deemed suitable by the scythe. Most are well practiced in killcraft with firearms, blades, and physical combat, with only explosive devices and the like being outlawed from use.

Unlike reapers as we know them, scythes wear bright robes, decorated to stand out among the population. Scythes are still human beings, however they are granted special privileges which include owning a scythes’ ring that can grant one year of immunity to whomever the scythe deems worthy. They are not feared, but honored and respected, with some scythes gaining wide spread fame and notoriety. All Scythes must adhere to the Scythe Commandments, the rules which guide all scythes in their actions and life from the moment they become scythes until they choose to end their scythehood.

In Scythe, teenagers Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch are apprenticed under the tutelage of the Honorable Scythe Faraday. Citra is a somewhat outspoken girl that first encounters Faraday stopping by their house for an awkward dinner on his way to a gleaning. Rowan, whom is sort of an outcast, meets Faraday on the way to school for another gleaning. In the Scythedom, it is unheard of for a scythe take on two apprentices at once, causing a big stir among the other scythes.

After a few months of training, it’s time for the first Conclave, a major convention for all the scythes from around the world. It’s a who’s who in the Scythedom with all the big names being present. There’s turmoil among the Scythedom as there have developed two opposing philosophies. One side is where Faraday and several other traditionalists found themselves, where scythes are minimalist, aren’t focused on notoriety or extravagance, and adhere strictly to the Scythe Commandments. The other side believes in a much looser interpretation of the commandments, where scythes ought to lead extravagant lives and do pretty much whatever they want, since they are doing society a great service after all.

In the course of events, Citra and Rowan find themselves separated from Faraday and forced into competition against one another with only one being awarded a scythe’s ring, and the other taking a one-way trip six feet under…

Ray King is a circulation assistant at Graham Public Library and can be contacted at rking@alamancelibraries.org.