Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman never fails to amaze me. Whether his books are funny, scary, or unsettling, they always fully entertain me and make me think about complex issues. Scythe has a mind-blowing premise. In the near future, humans have created a perfect society by eliminating disease, poverty, hunger, and even old age. It's a utopia except for over population, so society has respected public servants called Scythes whose job it is to kill people. A good scythe kills without bias, chooses victims carefully, and causes little pain. Most importantly, a scythe should not enjoy the killing. In this first book of a new series, two teenagers are chosen to be apprentices to a venerated Scythe. Only one will become an official scythe, though, and it soon is determined that only one will survive the apprenticeship. The relationship between the teens and the Scythes is fascinating, and there is enough action to keep young readers on the edge of their seats. There are a few holes in the utopia (Why would a scythe ever kill someone with a weapon when there are painless pills that can be given? And how does the Thunderhead really replace government?) But this will make for great discussions with students about the fragility of life and the benefits of being (or not being) mortal.

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