Saturday, February 10, 2018

Scythe, Neal Shusterman


Unwind's originality and ambition had done enough for me that my interest was piqued when I saw Shusterman's name on my Walker Press Release.  Then I read this endorsement:

"Over the years, I've heard many books touted as the successor to Hunger Games, but SCYTHE is the first one that I would really, truly stand behind..."  - Maggie Stiefvater

Sold.  Not so much because I enjoyed The Hunger Games (although I did, very much), but because this came from Maggie!  When Maggie speaks, I sit up and request books.  

I'm glad I did.

Book's basic premise: 
In the future we're so good at health and safety we're living forever and so the place is getting pretty overpopulated.  Solution?  Culling numbers...or in other words, there must be those who "glean."   

Bullet time...
  • Scythe's world boasts the two things I liked about Unwind -- originality and ambition.  I've never read anything quite like it, and the broad scope of its utopia has been on my mind plenty since.  This is the kind of future you'll want to talk about with a friend while you're reading.  I've already hijacked my book club into reading it next because I need to discusssss. 
  • Ethical questions abound, but what makes them so interesting, is that I'd never asked myself any of them...and I'm still not sure I can fully answer them.  I was rattled by how warped my moral compass would seem at face value if I stated some of the acts and behaviours I was okay with in the world of Scythe, out of context.  Unlike the concept of "unwinding," I bought into this proposition big-time and it made for trippy reading.  I'm looking forward to more from Shusterman.
  • Advisory bullet: There's minimal swearing and no sex scenes, but there's a crapload of violence...and disturbing violence enacted by youth, at that.  For that reason, I don't think I could read this one again and again...but apparently I can muscle my book club into reading it.  *eye roll*
  • I think there's still some room for growth in terms of narrative pacing, exploration of grey areas, and romantic chemistry, but I found the world and its rules compelling enough to keep reading. 
If you enjoyed The Hunger Games and any Scott Westerfield (particularly Uglies), this is for you.  It also shares some tonal and thematic elements with 1984 and The Giver.

It is the beginning of a series (and it's been optioned for film)...and I'll be following along.

P.S.  Isn't the cover clever!?  Look closely.

Review copy received from Walker.

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