I found this book simply brilliant! I've been obsessing over its concept for months now! Scythe is about a utopian society that has managed to excell in everything, world hunger and poverty have been cured, unemployment is nonexistent, even death has been defeated. The deadish, aka those who died, are taken care of by revival centers that resurrect them.
"There are times I feel I am fighting a losing battle against an old-fashioned apocalypse of the living dead."
Natural death has become such a medieval thought that, in order to maintain a certain balance between the dead and the living, a new élite had to arise: the Scythes. Scythes are an ordained group of people who are allowed to take the life of those deemed ready to die.
The two main characters are Citra and Rowan, two teenagers chosen by Scythe Faraday to become his apprentices. The Scythe Counsil doesn't think it fair that Faraday chose two apprentices and decides that, at the end of their apprenticeship, neither can live if the other survives (bit o' Harry Potter there!). The story follows their path and tribulations, studying, gleaning and friendship wise.
"I do believe mortals strived more heartily toward their goals, because they knew that time was of the essence. But us? We can put things off far more effectively than those doomed to die, because death has become the exception instead of the rule."
What I found incredibly fascinating about this book was the concept of mortality seen as something outdated, but still intimately yearned. People in this new Age of Immortality don't have gods to appeal to, always live on the verge of apathy because when time is not running against you and you don't need to strive in order to obtain anything, what's the point?
"The stagnation that I so fervently glean on a daily basis seems an epidemic that only grows."
Death is regarded with the utmost respect by those Scythes who have not completely lost their ability to empathize ("For only the pain of empathy will keep us human.") but there are still those who want more and who refuse to abide to the rules of the Scythedom. Because what happens when those who grant you either death or life start feeling like gods on earth?
"I choose to embrace life, even as I deal death. Make no mistake—we scythes are above the law because we deserve to be. I see a day when new scythes will be chosen [...] because they enjoy the taking of life."
I would have appreciated more though if the villains hadn't been as one dimensional as they appeared to be. Plain evil is never interesting but still I found them somewhat chilling.
Romance wise, thank god, there's not much of it but having a boy and a girl as main characters shouldn't always require for them to fall in love. Just sayin'! Also because there wasn't much foundation for it. Still, I really enjoyed how they always had each other's back throughout the entire story never leaving us questioning their side.
“They’re waiting for a show,” Rowan said. “Shall we give it to them?”
Characters such as Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie deserved much more space and I hope they'll have some more in the next instalment of this series!
Really unique and interesting concept, can't wait for the second instalment to come out!