Well, start with an amazing concept, add some awesome characters and an intriguing plot, and you’ll have yourself an interesting read. Scythe certainly ticked a lot of boxes for me. What was truly remarkable about it was how unique the premise felt: in a world where no one can die, the unpleasant job of population control falls to the Scythes.
I feel like this is one of those rare books where the world building lends itself directly to the premise- and boy was that aspect well done. Everything felt so well thought out, from the fact that the years are named after animals (I was happy to see the Year of the Ocelot in one diary entry!), the euphemism “gleaning” for killing was a sharp idea and the fact that a group of scythes was called an elegy (like a murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens etc- get it? Anyway, I thought it was cool). I also really liked the way the Commandments for Scythes were worked out, starting with Thou Shalt Kill.
It was also cool how the book turns its blade on our own society, indicting the fact that no one reads, they just watching cat holograms (or in our case videos). And of course there was a great deal of logic to the idea that immortality would make humanity inhuman. I did like a lot of the philosophy overall. There were a few things that I thought were more questionable, such as the fact that if the Thunderhead is basically a God, and is entirely good, is this an argument for a benevolent dictator? That sort of idea makes my rebellious spirit squirm- but I guess for an answer to that, I’ll have to wait for the next book.
The characterisation was effective and done quickly. I found Citra had more hard edges, but I softened to her as the story went on. Rowan appealed to me more, especially his cleverness, and I found myself empathising with him more as he got deeper and deeper into trouble (no spoilers). The other characters were quite interesting- but the one that struck me the most was Goddard- who made an excellent villain.
I did spend a lot of time wondering where on earth the plot was going- but that’s not a bad thing, because I really didn’t see a lot of it coming. I did think that some ideas were presented and then taken away too quickly, which meant the pacing could be all over the place. And that was one of the main sticking points I had with this novel. And then of course there was the unavoidable issue with the whole premise: sometimes it feels like the stakes are very low because everyone is basically immortal. It’s a bit of a catch 22- because I really do like the concept- but I can’t deny the issue I had with it. This was offset a little by highlight for spoiler having the threat of their having to glean each other hanging over them- but for some reason I never quite felt like they were fighting to the death.
Overall though, I thought it was a great book:
Rating: 4/5 bananas
So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!