Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) (Paperback)

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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) By Neal Shusterman Cover Image
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(Young Adult (Ages 12+))

Staff Reviews

I will sing Neal Shusterman's praises all the livelong day. He writes people so well, they're thoughts and emotions are portrayed so realistically and relatably. He uses this to anchor even the most outlandish scenarios in realism. Scythe is a prime example of that. We are dropped into a Quasi-Utopia where death, hunger, war, crime and other staples of the human condition have been eradicated in one way or another by a benevolent AI known as the Thunderhead (like the cloud, get it?). The only potential problem remaining: Overpopulation. Humans are functionally immortal now and no one wants to give that up willingly. That's where the scythes come in. These agents of death wear the garbs of an archetype long forgotten in the age of immortality and the irony goes unappreciated. Against the backdrop of this society do we find our protagonists, Citra and Rowan. I've already said too much already so I'll leave you with this: If you're looking for high octane action, this might not be your jam. If you're looking for a story rife with philosophical questions and moral quandaries, this'll be right up your alley.

— From Israel's Picks


A Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021)

Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

About the Author

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including the Unwind dystology, the Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, and Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award. Scythe, the first book in his series Arc of a Scythe is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. Neal is the father of four, all of whom are talented writers and artists themselves. Visit Neal at and

Praise For…

"Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman's dark tale thrusts realistic, likeable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions. A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning."
— Kirkus Reviews

"Shusterman is no stranger to pushing boundaries. Scythe owes an obvious debt to Unwind (2007) and its

sequels, and this succeeds as a sort of shadow companion to Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy: instead

of exploring the ways in which men are monsters, this deals in what happens to men when there are no

monsters. When our reach does not exceed our grasp, when comfort is more easily obtained than struggle,

when our essential humanity doesn’t burn out but becomes slowly irrelevant, what becomes of us?

Readers will find many things in these pages. Answers to such unsettling questions will not be among

— Maggie Reagan

Product Details
ISBN: 9781442472433
ISBN-10: 144247243X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 28th, 2017
Pages: 464
Language: English
Series: Arc of a Scythe