The first book in Neal Shusterman’s breathtaking Arc of a Scythe trilogy (and our December YA Book Club Selection), Scythe introduces readers to a dystopian world in which humanity has found a way to banish every scourge imaginable—from hunger and disease, to war. Even death has been abolished—which is where the Scythes come in. These trained assassins are the only ones who can take a life, and when teens Citra and Rowan are chosen as apprentices to a scythe, they are reluctant to learn the “art” of bringing death to others. But they have little choice. Now that you’ve immersed yourself in the treacherous world of Scythe, and discussed it at our YA Book Club meeting at 7pm on December 12th, we’ve gathered together a collection of readalikes with the same unnerving dystopias, intricate worldbuilding, and compelling characters to keep the thrills going.
Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe Series #2 ), by Neal Shusterman
If you’re hooked on the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, your next stop is Thunderhead, book two in the series. Citra and Rowan have parted ways, with Citra picking up the mantle of service and Rowan vanishing, turned into something of a mythic vigilante who hunts corrupt Scythes. The Thunderhead, of course, cannot interfere in any of the goings-on…but perhaps it will do so anyway, by leading a new character down a strange and stumbling path toward saving the deeply endangered world order. The final book in the series, The Toll, is set a few years after the events of Thunderhead, and will keep readers riveted and tie the whole trilogy together perfectly, while providing insight into Shusterman’s writing process: the B&N exclusive edition includes exclusive chapter-by-chapter commentary from the author, including background for characters and scenes, and explanations of why he made specific decisions while writing the novel.
Dry, by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
With Dry, dystopian fantasy and sci-fi powerhouse Shusterman is joined by his son, debut novelist Jarrod, for a near-future tale about a California suburb’s descent into survivalist hell. The so-called Tap-Out has friends and family members turning against one another in their quest to navigate the worst drought in the state’s history. In the middle of it all is sixteen-year-old Alyssa, whose parents have vanished and whose little brother is depending on her. The father-son author duo provide exclusive chapter-by-chapter commentary in this Barnes & Noble exclusive edition.
Unwind (Unwind Dystology Series #1), by Neal Shusterman
The truly terrifying thing about Black Mirror is how close its reality feels to our own. Neal Shusterman’s disturbing dystopian YA is just as relevant today as it was when it was published—perhaps even more so. In a world where teens can be retroactively aborted through a process called “unwinding,” Shusterman explores pro-life and pro-choice arguments in a terrifying way. Some teens, like Lev, are unwound as a religious tithing. Some, like Risa, a ward of the state, are unwound due to budget cuts. And some, like Connor, never thought they’d be unwound—until he overhears his parents discussing unwinding him due to his behavior issues. The three teens’ paths cross as they each run away from their own unwinding, in a thrillingly fast-paced series starter that could easily be a Black Mirror episode.
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass Series #1), by Sarah J. Maas
Celaena is one of the deadliest individuals in her world, trained as an assassin since she was eight years old. In Throne of Glass, she’s released from prison to take part in a competition to become the champion of the King of Adarlan. If she wins, she earns her freedom—after four long years of service to the king. Along the way, she learns to trust Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard; flirts with Dorian, the King’s infuriating son; and finds a target on her back when the other competitors begin dying.
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Series #1), by Cassandra Clare
The first book in Clare’s seminal The Mortal Instruments series is a Must Have for readers who love paranormal fantasy, inspired world building, and enterprising warrior teens who hunt and kill demons and other monsters, encountering romance and mystery along the way. Fortunately there are six books in the series, so once it grabs you, you’ll be able to spend some time in this unforgettable universe.
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha Series #1), by Tomi Adeyemi
Welcome to your new addiction! This blockbuster fantasy debut includes elements of West African history and folklore. Diviner Zélie and fierce princess Amari must flee Amari’s brother on a life-or-death quest to restore magic to the land of Orïsha. Come for the detailed worldbuilding, mesmerizing characters, and female deity. Stay for the enchanting new voice in YA fiction. In book two, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, Zélie faces new struggles. Yes, she’s returned magic to Orïsha, but the ritual to do so was so powerful, it brought back powers for the maji and nobles with magic ancestry as well. Uniting the maji when the enemy has comparable power is difficult enough, and now that civil war is imminent, Zélie must bring the people together and secure Amari’s right to the throne or see the kingdom fall apart forever.
The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air Series #1), by Holly Black
This dark and elegant fantasy series spirits readers away to the realm of Faerie. As a young girl, Jude saw her parents murdered—by the man who became her adoptive Faerie father. Grown fierce and resilient on her upbringing in the volatile Faerie court, Jude becomes ensnared by court intrigue and the object of the titular cruel prince Cardan’s attention. The story that follows isn’t a heartwarmer, but it certainly is a page-turner. The passionate love/hate relationships and shocking political intrigue continue in The Wicked King. Jude’s power grab has brought her unimaginable influence in Faerie, but it also comes with a ticking clock of one year and a day (the book opens at the five-month mark) before King Cardan Greenbriar gets a chance to flip the script. The complex characters, the insane amounts of tension between Jude and Cardan, the shifting alliances, and the limitless backstabbing will grip you from start to finish. The thrilling final installment, The Queen of Nothing, finds Jude back in the mortal world, where she hasn’t lived since before her kidnapping at age seven. It’s a far cry from Jude’s life as Queen of Faerie, and Jude is not loving her exile. When her twin sister, Taryn, seeks her out in need of a favor, Jude finally gets the chance to confront Cardan and reclaim her power. Of course, there’s the small matter of a curse needing to be broken first.
What are you reading once you finish Scythe?