A talk about the novel “Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)” by Neal Shusterman

Let’s talk about the novel, “Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)” .

Cover of novel "Scythe" by Neal Shusterman
Cover of novel “Scythe” by Neal Shusterman

I have to admit, the cover of this novel is what drew me in at first. I saw this before I even noticed that the author, Neal Shusterman,  is the same one who wrote the dystopian series “Unwind” that held me captive for weeks. Those two factors led to me being compelled to place it on my reading list.

For those who are looking for the presence of deity in this novel and the mythos of the reaper, this is not the novel you may seek. At least it is not in the traditional sense. But if you are looking for the presence of the human spirit in a world ruled by our technological advances in spite of our journey away from our inner spaces, then this is definitely worth the read.

It focuses on two teen protagonists, and their apprenticeships into the society of Scythes. In a world where disease and death are no longer facts of life, society has created a novel way to regulate the population. These young people find themselves chosen to take on the prospect of joining the “solution” as apprentices.

This world of the future is ruled by the Thunderhead, and evolution of sentient world cloud technology, that takes the place of world governance from the hands of humanity. Life, in all its aspects is now monitored by this entity. But with the ability to live forever, the question of death becomes delicate.

“When it was decided that people needed to die in order to ease the tide of population growth, it was also decided that this must be the responsibility of humans. Bridge repair and urban planning could be handled by the Thunderhead, but taking a life was an act of conscience and consciousness. Since it could not be proven that the Thunderhead had either, the Scythedom was born.”

This heavy burden is relegated only to a single facet of human society dedicated to this purpose. They are the best of us, the most compassionate. They hold the ultimate authority and trust and power. What could go wrong?

I highly recommend this book for the societal, and spiritual, questions is poses. The juxtaposition of the relevance, and irrelevance, of the humanities as part of our reason for being is subtly thread throughout the story. I look forward with great anticipation to the next novel in this series.

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