MINI REVIEW: Arc of a Scythe Series by Neal Shusterman

Hey guys! I haven’t done a mini review for a while and since I recently finished the Arc of a Scythe Series by Neal Shusterman, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring my mini reviews back. There will be spoilers so if you haven’t yet read this series and would like to you should probably avoid reading this post. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on this series!

Scythe:

I went into this with pretty high expectations because everyone has been raving about it and I wasn’t disappointed. It definitely lives up to the hype and I can see myself reading it again in the future. It’s a pretty popular YA fantasy/dystopian series but if you haven’t heard of it, the story is set in a utopian world where there’s no disease, war or crime, which also means that everyone is immortal. In order to keep the population under control, people are randomly selected to be ‘gleaned’ (killed) by a professional scythe. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been chosen as an apprentice, however, whoever wins at the end of it must glean the loser as a scythe is only meant to take on one apprentice at a time. The world-building was seriously impressive and there was a great cast of characters. I thought it was interesting that scythe’s took on apprentices and I loved seeing how Scythe Faraday trained Citra and Rowan and the choices they both made throughout. Also, I liked how scythe’s could chose how they gleaned people and how ruthless they wanted to be about it.

Now, as much as I love Scythe Faraday, he definitely messed up by choosing two apprentices and I’m kind of surprised he didn’t see it coming that Citra and Rowan would be pitted against each other. It did serve to show how corrupt the Scythedom is though and just how bad it has become that they have such low opinions of anyone who isn’t a scythe. Then we have the divide between old guard and new order scythes so straight away those who are in charge of curbing the population aren’t even united. New order scythes are frustrated by the commandments; they enjoy killing and resent the commandments for restricting who and how they can glean. I could already see that hurtling towards a disaster later on in the series! I also felt so sorry for Rowan because he gets stuck with Scythe Goddard – the one gunning for more freedom when it comes to gleaning. I was very curious about the Thunderhead – an AI whose sole purpose is to help humankind, but has no involvement in scythe business. I love the concept for this series – how this perfect society was actually a lot darker underneath the surface. Even when everyone is equal and has everything they need, there’s still characters who are corrupt and power-hungry. It was definitely off to a great start and I had to pick Thunderhead up right away.

Thunderhead:

Before I actually get into my thoughts about the plot for this one, I really wish they included The Scythe Commandments at the start of Thunderhead because I could not remember what they were and every time one was mentioned I had to pick up Scythe again to remind myself which commandment they were breaking. I still can’t recall them now! Anyway, Thunderhead ended up being an amazing sequel and was just as nail-biting as Scythe. The corruption in the Scythedom had only deepened and the divide between old guard and new order scythes was widening. I’m not usually one for political intrigue and this book was rife with it, but I really enjoyed learning more about the Scythedom and how it operated. It definitely made the story so much more interesting.

Now onto the characters! Seeing Rowan take on the role of Scythe Lucifer to end corrupt scythes was so satisfying. Yes, what he did was bad and there definitely was another way to go about it but after how he’d been treated by these scythes I’m not surprised he felt driven to do this. He definitely suffers the most in this series out of any other characters and is one of the strongest because of that. Honestly what he goes through would have broken me ten times over. He’s an incredibly resilient character. Then we have Citra – I loved seeing her as a scythe and her method of gleaning was so interesting as she let people chose how they wanted to die and she gave them a month to say goodbye to their loved ones before she came back to glean them. I could easily see why so many people looked up to her and considered her someone who could change the Scythedom for the better. A new character was also introduced – Grayson Tolliver! Unfortunately, it took a while for me to warm up to him and I didn’t care at all for his chapters. I think because I’d had such a good time with Rowan and Citra in the first book, I didn’t want that to be ruined by the introduction of another character. He definitely took up a lot of the story since he had such an integral role to play but I felt sorry for him and everything he went through for the Thunderhead. There’s also some more POVs that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about (Tyger Salazar), but apart from that it was a solid sequel. The ending was so shocking and I didn’t see it coming at all! What a massive cliffhanger that was. It had me on the edge of my seat.

The Toll:

One thing that caught me by surprise in this series is how much time passes between each book. When this one begins, it’s been three years since Endura sunk and Rowan and Citra disappeared. So much can change in three years and Goddard definitely made sure of that. Unfortunately, this book was let down a little by its length. I didn’t think it needed to be as long as it was and it was a bit heavy with the POVs. There was some chapters that felt unnecessary and the start of the story was a bit of a slog to get through. However, once the plot started picking up it had the same excitement as the first two books and it ended up being an excellent conclusion to the series. Grayson Tolliver becomes an almost god-like figure because he’s the only one who can communicate with the Thunderhead after everyone else was marked unsavoury. It really brought to light how much this version of humanity relies on technology to get through their day and when that’s taken away, they’re lost and no longer have a purpose.

I would have preferred for Citra and Rowan to be reunited sooner because they’re the reason why I love this series so much, but I did enjoy seeing the story develop outside of them. I didn’t particularly care for Loriana and Munira though and I skim read a lot of their chapters. I did enjoy Grayson’s chapters a lot more this time round and I loved how he actually started thinking for himself and stopped letting others push him about. The Thunderhead is definitely more than a machine! I’m convinced that it feels a lot more strongly than it wants to believe and it cares about Grayson a lot. It was nice seeing them communicating with each other and how the Thunderhead found ways round the Scythedom to warn Grayson of any danger.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the ending. It’s definitely not one I would have chosen and I didn’t fully understand why this had to happen. It kind of felt separate to the rest of the story and a bit random if I’m being honest. I didn’t feel like Citra had that much of an impact on the Scythedom by the end as we’d been led to believe she would. That being said, it was still a great conclusion overall and I really do love this series.

Although the Arc of a Scythe Series wasn’t quite five stars for me, I did rate each book highly and thought it was a fantastic series overall. Neal Shusterman is a great writer and I’ll definitely be checking out more of his books. What did you think of this series? I hope you liked this mini review and thank you so much for reading!

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