Genre: YA science fiction
Length: 435 pages
Setting: mostly MidMerica, nearish future
Summary: Scythe Faraday has found two high schoolers, Citra and Rowan, that have an extra spark of compassion to make a good scythe. He bends the rules and takes them both on as apprentices. At the Vernal Conclave, Scythe politics lead to a fatal competition between Citra and Rowan. One will get the Scythe ring, and the other will be gleaned. Scythe Faraday kills himself to set his apprentices free. Instead, Citra is sent to Scythe Curie, one of the old guard, and Rowan is sent to Scythe Goddard, the leader of a Scythe faction that revels in the reaping and the privileges of the position. Citra starts to suspect Faraday’s death wasn’t voluntary. Rowan tries to stay compassionate as he’s surrounded by vice. He breaks when Scythe Goddard leads a mass reaping on a Tonist cult and kills all the Scythes following Scythe Goddard. Citra is given the Scythe ring, but she manages to give Rowan immunity for a year before gleaning him.
Final thoughts: A thoughtful story told in a fascinating setting. Technology has gotten to the point that your mind could be loaded into a new body whenever the old one is damaged beyond repair or gotten too old. So, death has been conquered, but people still have babies. So, to keep the population reasonably under control, Scythes were created to “reap” (otherwise known as “permanently kill”) a portion of the population regularly. But how does a Scythe choose who to reap? And how do Scythes choose apprentices? At this point in history, there’s a split developing between factions. Scythe Faraday looks for compassion in a Scythe and uses statistics to choose his victims. Goddard loves to kill and wishes there were fewer restrictions on reaping. Which faction will win? Rowan and Citra are stuck in the middle and have a hand in determining which faction will carry the day. The end gives a beautiful twist that made the book even more enjoyable. Both apprentices are placed in untenable situations and figure a way out. The best part is, this is the first book in a series, so there will be more to come!
Title comes from: The individuals chosen to permanently kill people were known as Scythes.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #65 for the year
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