Scythe is about a world in the future, where humans have conquered all things, even death. Immortality is rapidly causing overpopulation. The Thunderhead, the artificial intelligence that now governs the world, decides to fix the problem by creating the Scythedom, an organization of trained killers, the Scythes. The Thunderhead made the Scythes the only ones with the right to kill, or as it is called, glean. Two teenagers, Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova lived the monotonous life that is commonplace in the Age of Immortality. One day, they are snatched out of their previous life and pushed into the world of Scythes. The two children are taken into apprenticeship by the Honorable Scythe Michael Faraday. Scythe Faraday explains to them that only one of the will become a Scythe. Even so, the two become close friends. The two grow farther and farther apart as they realize that they would have to glean each other or die themselves as only one of them can become a Scythe. Who will be victorious in becoming a Scythe? Or would death be better than having to glean your friend?
Scythe shows what will happen with immortal humans. Although the world is supposedly perfect with the rule of the ultimate artificial intelligence, the Scythedom is infested with madmen who believe that gleaning is something to be enjoyed–an art. When they kill dozens and dozens of innocent people at a time, it is deemed “normal”. The immortality also changes people’s view of life and death. As people will never die (unless they get killed by Scythes), it causes people to take irrational choices with their life, such as jumping off of skyscrapers. People are not afraid of dying because they can be revived again and again. In our world, life is cherished as something that will only happen once. This makes people live more fulfilling lives.
Although people treat life like it’s just a game in this future world, they are more afraid of dying permanently because they are so used to being revived. This makes it nearly impossible for humans to undertake adventures such as space exploration for example, because in space they do not have the technology and machinery to be revived. Due to this, humans are too afraid to be on any space exploration expeditions. There is much more at stake for them to take risk in the space because of their immortality back at home. However without the spirit of risk taking, humans would never have advanced so much. Looking back human history, risk-taking is how we have evolved since the beginning of mankind, from Christopher Columbus sailing to the Americas to Neil Armstrong being the first human on the moon. The cowardice of the humans in the world of Scythe causes humans to be trapped on the Earth, and the only way to stop overpopulation, sadly, has to be decreasing the population. This is why there are Scythes. I find it rather ridiculous that the human-created Thunderhead chose this way to curb the rapid population growth.
Scythe is definitely one of my favorite books this summer. There are fast-paced action, an intriguing story, and humor throughout the book. I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys science fictions / thriller novels. It is amazing how this book really makes you ponder.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!
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