Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Series #1)

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Series #1)

by Neal Shusterman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442472440
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 11/22/2016
Series: Arc of a Scythe Series , #1
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 15,454
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
File size: 6 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

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 newest series Arc of a Scythe, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. The father of four children, Neal lives in California. Visit him at Storyman.com and Facebook.com/NealShusterman.

Read an Excerpt

Scythe

It is the most difficult thing a person can be asked to do. And knowing that it is for the greater good doesn’t make it any easier. People used to die naturally. Old age used to be a terminal affliction, not a temporary state. There were invisible killers called “diseases” that broke the body down. Aging couldn’t be reversed, and there were accidents from which there was no return. Planes fell from the sky. Cars actually crashed. There was pain, misery, despair. It’s hard for most of us to imagine a world so unsafe, with dangers lurking in every unseen, unplanned corner. ?All of that is behind us now, and yet a simple truth remains: People have to die.

It’s not as if we can go somewhere else; the disasters on the moon and Mars colonies proved that. We have one very limited world, and although death has been defeated as completely as polio, people still must die. The ending of human life used to be in the hands of nature. But we stole it. Now we have a monopoly on death. We are its sole distributor.

I understand why there are scythes, and how important and how necessary the work is . . . but I often wonder why I had to be chosen. And if there is some eternal world after this one, what fate awaits a taker of lives?

—From the gleaning journal of H.S. Curie

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Scythe

By Neal Shusterman

About the Book

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

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn every method of ending life and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against each other in a fight for their lives.

Discussion Questions

The following questions may be utilized throughout the study of Scythe as targeted questions for discussion and reflection, or alternatively, they can be used to as reflective writing prompts.

1. The first entry from the gleaning journal of H. S. Curie states, “We must, by law, keep a record of the innocents we kill. And as I see it, they’re all innocents. Even the guilty.” Why does Curie see mankind as both innocent and guilty? In your opinion, does that matter?

2. Why can “gleaning” not be referred to as “killing”? Why does this society believe it’s socially or morally incorrect to call it such? Do you agree? How does the role of the scythe fit into that complex system?

3. Curie shares that “scythes provide a crucial service for society.” In what ways are her understanding of her work correct? From what you discovered in the novel, what are the biggest challenges to serving as a scythe? Can you think of any ways that the position offers benefits to the scythe?

4. As the novel opens, Honorable Scythe Faraday visits Citra’s home while he waits to pay a visit to their neighbor. His multilayered robe is described as “smooth ivory linen,” not black, because “black was an absence of light and scythes were the opposite. Luminous and enlightened, they were acknowledged as the very best of humanity—which is why they were chosen for the job.” Based on what you learn about Scythe Faraday, what can be inferred about his choice of robe color? What additional early information about him can be garnered by his interaction with both Citra and her family?

5. Citra thinks, “No surprise that people bent over backwards to please scythes in every possible way. Hope in the shadow of fear is the world’s most powerful motivator.” Do you agree? What role does hope have in motivating others? In what ways do people strive to accommodate and influence scythes?

6. After Citra asks Scythe Faraday about his age and is admonished by her mother, he tells them, “I like direct questions. They show an honesty of spirit.” What other qualities about Citra do you find Faraday is most drawn to? What is your analysis of her character? Is she someone you’d befriend if given the chance?

7. Consider what you’ve learned about Citra and Rowan. What is it about these two teens that make them seem like appropriate candidates as scythe apprentices? In what ways are they similar, and how are they different? Given what you discover about them, is there one character you like better than the other? If so, why?

8. Throughout the novel, Citra and Rowan learn that there is a right way to glean. Do you agree? Can you make a case for this component in this future society?

9. After learning more about Citra’s father’s historical research, Faraday declares, “The past never changes—and from what I can see, neither does the future.” Citra believes that to a degree, he is actually correct. Why have Faraday’s experiences left him feeling this way? Do you agree with his assessment? Why is it important to continue to study the past and look for fresh perspectives about history?

10. After meeting Rowan for the first time at Kohl’s gleaning, Faraday tells Rowan, “You stood your ground for a boy you barely knew. You comforted him at the moment of his death, bearing the pain of the jolt. You bore witness, even though no one called you to do so.” Why does this act impress Faraday so much?

11. Faraday tells Rowan, “Remember that good intentions pave many roads. Not all of them lead to hell.” What do you believe he means by this statement? Do you agree? Why or why not?

12. Did learning that Scythe Faraday attends the funerals of those he gleans surprise you? For what reason do you think it’s significant that he does this?

13. Review the Scythes’ Commandments. Is there anything about these mandates that you find unusual or surprising?

14. In the instructions Faraday gives Citra and Rowan, he tells them, “You shall study history, the great philosophers; the sciences. You will come to understand the nature of life, and what it means to be human before you are permanently charged with the taking of life. You will also study all forms of killcraft, and become experts.” What do you believe are his motivations to have his apprentices study both the arts and sciences? How does this benefit them and their potential future work?

15. Based on your initial impressions of Scythe Faraday and what you learn about him over the course of the novel, does your opinion of him change in any way and if so, how? How was his leadership style different from that of Scythe Curie and Scythe Goddard? Do you see Citra or Rowan being more aligned with Faraday’s philosophies about mankind and gleaning? In what ways might this impact the two apprentices?

16. Rowan tells Volta, “I know you’re not like the others.” Do you agree with Rowan’s assessment? In what ways are Rowan and Volta alike? Are there any ways they are different?

17. Volta states that Scythe Goddard is “the future.” Given what you have learned about the new guard of scythes, what makes that so disconcerting? What do you believe motivates Goddard to behave the way he does?

18. During their sparring match, why does Citra become so angry at Rowan’s actions? For the pair, how does the knowledge that only one of them is to survive make them feel? In what ways do each of them work to protect the other when they are forced to fight?

19. Why does Citra become so committed to understanding the details of Faraday’s last day? Do you think she is right to grow suspicious about his death? Consider the consequences of her actions: How does her need to learn what happened put her in danger, and why are those involved in his death so worried the truth will be revealed? What was your reaction to the realization that things may not be as they appear?

20. Compare the traditional scythes to the new celebrity scythes. In what ways do these two groups take the understanding of their work differently? How do those differences ultimately impact the citizens in their world?

21. Compare the ways in which Citra and Rowan deal with each other and their apprenticeships. What can be learned about the character of each from these interactions and relationships?

22. Given the ending of Scythe, share your predictions for the next installment of this thrilling series.

Extension Activities

1. The gleaning journal of H. S. Curie states that “People used to die naturally. Old age used to be a terminal affliction, not a temporary state. There was pain, misery, and despair.” How does this future world without diseases, aging, transportation crashes, and “danger lurking in every unseen, unplanned corner” compare to the world you know? After completing your reading of Scythe, write an essay that analyzes these two worlds.

2. Faraday states, “A scythe is merely the instrument of death, but it is your hand that swings me. You and your parents and everyone else in this world are the wielders of scythes. We all are accomplices. You must share the responsibility.” Consider Faraday’s words. Based on what you know about your world and his, do you agree? Compose a response to Faraday where you share your position.

3. For Citra and Rowan, being selected as a scythe’s apprentice has obviously had a profound impact on their lives and their relationships with others. Throughout the novel, as they learn more about the role and responsibility of being a scythe, they become increasingly empowered to take control of their lives and choices. After taking a moment to reflect on your life’s most personal challenges, draft a journal or diary entry focusing on the ways you’ve already overcome obstacles and listing the strategies you plan to use to deal with those you are still facing.

4. Throughout Scythe, Shusterman infuses his story with rich, powerful, figurative language. Embark on a literary scavenger hunt throughout the book to locate your favorite examples of phrases or quotes. Create a sharable quote card image to be published on a social media site of your choice.

5. While the novel focuses on the relationship between Scythe Faraday, Citra, and Rowan, Shusterman introduces us to a number of secondary characters who face their own hardships or need the opportunity to have some self-awareness. Select a secondary character in Scythe and write a letter of advice to him/her. You can choose to be serious or funny, just make sure your advice fits the character’s needs.

6. Throughout Scythe, a number of characters exhibit acts of bravery. Consider the individual actions of these characters. Who do you believe to be the most courageous? Write a letter to that character explaining why you believe his/her actions are so brave.

7. Assume the role of one of the secondary characters in Scythe and draft a diary entry detailing what you experienced and witnessed. To prepare, create an outline using the five W’s (who, what, when, where, and why). Remember to write in first person and give special attention to sensory imagery (what you saw, smelled, heard, etc.).

8. Consider the shift in philosophy from our world where a digital network “cloud” and artificial intelligence is feared to a future where a “Thunderhead” provides a “perfect world.” Do you believe utopias are possible? Here in the United States, a number of utopian communities have been established over time. Select a community or society to research, making sure to explore the principles that guided the community as well as the assumptions about those core beliefs. For what you learn, share why you believe this community was ultimately unable to sustain itself.

This guide was created by Dr. Rose Brock, an assistant professor in Library Science Department in the College of Education at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Brock holds a Ph.D. in Library Science, specializing in children’s and young adult literature.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Series #1) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. Seriously. Absolutely perfect. Can't wait for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Neal Shusterman, and his writing style. This book will not let you down! His commentary on government and abuse of power is thought provoking. The characters are well rounded and well developed as is the plot. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book that will stick with you lodge itself in a crack in your psyche and not let go. It tackles the problems of immortality and the truth of compassion and justice. It does not make the unimaginable act of killing ok, if anything it brings into clarity why it is wrong and the true consequences of the end of a life. May we all strive to be more than the lettuce and be people of substance, compassion, and fortitude.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This book was everything I every wanted in a novel. Lately, I've really been into dystopian novels, but this one was really different in a good way. 100% recommend ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first re-read and I still love this book as much as I did when I first read it a year ago. Rowan and Citra are awesomely mind-blowing, equally strong and different in their own ways. On to the next book!!
Anonymous 4 days ago
One of my new favs!!! Would recommend to anyone!
Anonymous 16 days ago
I loved this book from cover to cover!!! I'd write a longer review but Thunderhead is waiting for me!
Anonymous 4 months ago
I had to stop reading, page 109 was the final straw. I could not get invested in any of the characters. The writing is slow, cyclical and pretentious. The universe seemed interesting at first but after reading it seems entirely unrealistic. The "budding romance" is entirely forced and unnecessary. I understand it's a young adult novel but there are so many themes that could have been explored with the absence of romance. I don't know how this book won a prize.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Anonymous 8 months ago
This book is one of a kind
Anonymous 11 months ago
Highly enjoyable read! I really liked it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Something I can believe in th e future. That is what makes it incredible
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read alot of book this is my favorit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SDMaxwell More than 1 year ago
This book is about the apprenticeship of Citra and Rowan into the Scythe order in a world in which people don’t die naturally anymore. The world is run by an all-knowing AI called the Thunderhead, which evolved from the Cloud and which has eliminated natural dead. Instead, people have to be gleaned by Scythes, humans given control over population control. Scythes have been put above all law (except their own small set) and are so untouchable by the Thunderhead that it won’t speak to them or actively recognize them in any way. I was originally interested in how the scythedom worked but the point of view I was given was kind of meh. I never connected to Citra at all. I didn’t really understand what made her a good pick. And nothing she said or did after really made me root for her. Rowan was more interesting, especially when he’s under Goddard as an apprentice. He has more moral dilemma he faces and more internal conflicts over how he views killing. But this is only because he’s taught by the baddest bad guy of the series who runs all the stereotypical bad guy tropes. I had a few issues with the world building in this book. Normally, that’s a big sticking point for me. You can have lackluster characters and I’ll accept a book if the world around them keeps me distracted. But it must be interesting, and it has to make sense. The first thing that stood out to me was that the author apparently has no idea what the Cloud actually is. I mean, I suppose to the casual observer, it’s a single being that houses information but … no. It’s really not. Another point was that of course there was going to be corruption within the scythedom. Humans fall to temptation all the time. They may have started with a sterling pure idea but all it would take is one new generation of scythes to screw the entire idea up. Two-hundred years from people who don’t naturally die? With ultimate power? Hah. I’m surprised it took as long as it did for things to go bad. The entire plot of this book was just … kinda boring and predictable. The two are apprentices to be scythes. For no reason that makes any sense they’re pitted against each other during their year-long apprenticeship so that at the end, they have to compete, and the winner has to glean the loser. No seriously. We’re totally not seeing any corruption in this choice. And then their mentor gleans himself out of the blue and they’re split up, one to the “good” scythe and one to the Bad Guy. Obviously, one is given a caring environment while the other is inexplicably tormented for their apprenticeship. Obviously, I had some issues with this book. They really stuck out because the characters are flat and the plot is lackluster and then the author decided the book needed a romance and it had like … no buzz. Not even a little. They barely even had chemistry as friends. I’ve seen antagonistic roommates with better chemistry. However, I listened to this as an audiobook and Greg Tremblay is outstanding. I got a kick out of his Faraday voice because the way he presented the character and the speaking patterns he used made him sound like Nathan Fillion to my ears and that made my day. Despite all my bitching, I give this book a 1.5 out of 5 stars. Obviously, that’s a 2 star on Goodreads and the like but it gets that .5 for Greg’s Faraday.
AReadingRedSox More than 1 year ago
I really liked this one! It was super interesting and complex; I loved the characters the premise of it all and how Shusterman wrote it. Really a fascinating read, and I'm super excited to continue with the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It’s a very good read - really enjoyed it!
WhisperingStories More than 1 year ago
This is the first instalment in a trilogy with an amazing premise – mortality is a thing of the past, but population control is obviously something that needs to be implemented so certain citizens are picked to become ‘scythes’ – essentially the people in charge of deciding who dies and the method of their deaths. Everyone else can live infinitely and reset their physical ages whenever they feel like it. Citra and Rowen are picked by the Scythe Faraday to become his apprentices and find that the organisation of Scythedom is at odds with itself – some scythes have differing opinions on what their duties are towards the main population and that leads to political friction. The pacing of this book was a little bit drawn out for my tastes, it could have done with a bit more action to break up the philosophy and politics. The interactions between the characters were interesting but they didn’t feel completely developed so I wasn’t able to fully empathise with them, this story hinges completely on its originality and its mysteries – in this case, I think those things are enough to make it a thoroughly enjoyable read. One thing that I’ll address is that this book is being touted as the next Hunger Games…. Yea….. No. The only similarities between the two is that there is a teenage boy and girl involved in peril. The world building in the Hunger Games isn’t as far removed from our reality, whereas Scythe is a bit more sci-fi and has some excellent world building so we can understand the principles on which everything operates. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the series, where I hope the main characters will have some more room to grow and stretch their legs!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved everything about it. Great read, def recommended for any fantasy fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read.
The_Little_Prince More than 1 year ago
A Creepy Insight Into Our Possible Future In this utopian future, society has achieved immortality under the omniscient Thunderhead. However, as population starts to become out of control, scythes are employed to keep the population in check. These scythes are chose for the moral values and are expected to glean in a humane way, but a new generation of scythes now loves to glean. They want to make gleaning a brutal and extravagant event and for gleaning to be something that all scythes love. The new generation is trying to impose their will and corrupt the Scythedom for their own greedy needs. Two main characters, Citra and Rowan, are thrust into the life of scythes, something neither of them want, but the cost of failure comes at the price of their lives. The book is definitely very exciting and keeps you hooked until the end. The book poses many themes of humanity and corruption, and poses real threats of our very possible future. The threat of artificial intelligence governing our world is very present with the ever-growing evolution of technology. If this were to happen, and people took killing to heart, what would be left of society? The book gives a action-packed ride into the lives of our character but also presents the reader with a world that might come to be ours in the future. Shusterman does a good job of incorporating these two elements to make a book that is very thought-provoking and entertaining. Both character are developed in their unique ways as they are thrust into this situation that neither wanted. Both have to adapt and learn under their mentors and choose which path they want to take: gleaning because it is right or gleaning for the fun of it. Another intriguing problem is the fact that if one of them becomes a scythe, they must glean the other, yet they both love each other. Shusterman does a great job of presenting all of these problems that are connects all the characters with one another. Also, the transfer between both points of view allows the reader to see what both characters are feeling and they can follow along with each character as they make decisions that could mean life or death for the other. Shusterman also uses the idea of the new, corrupt generation of scythes as a symbol of our own world. Shusterman presents new characters that use their position of power to impose their will on the Scythedom. These powerful officials blackmail and bribe those of lower power to allow the corruption spread throughout the entire Scythedom. These corrupt officials symbolize our current government, and how our officials blackmail and bribe others to impose their will on the government. This book presents dark themes and questions about how truly corrupt our society is. This book is definitely a must-read and perhaps one of my favorite books. The language and imagery that Shusterman uses helps the reader vividly picture this sci-fi world that may be a very possible future for our world. The massive and diverse set of characters keeps the reader on-edge and each unique problem that they face is connected with each other, elevating the story to another level. The plot was interesting the themes were thought-provoking, and the plot twists were unexpected and very shocking. These elements made this book a very enjoyable piece of literature that I would recommend for people that are in their teens and up.
Karla_-D More than 1 year ago
I am not a big fan of science fiction, but this book is one of my favorite books hands down. In the future, everyone is immortal and scythes are trained to glean people to keep the population under control. Scythes are chosen based on high moral standards and expected to do the job in the most humane way possible, but a new generation of scythes think that people should be picked because they love what they do. They think that the Scythedom should be a flashy, brutal, theatricality where the act of gleaning should be enjoyed. The book has themes of morality and government corruption in a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping novel. The book raises questions about, morality, humanity, and government corruption. It is definitely a book that makes you think. The book is set where humans have eliminated death and are governed by an almost omniscient artificial intelligence, the Thunderhead. The book gives you a glimpse of what humanity can be in a couple decades or so. A lot of the technology is believable and realistic and even though the world of Scythe is extremely complex, Shusterman writes in a way that is easy to understand. The characters are strong and develop fully throughout the novel. Both of the main characters are thrust in a situation that neither of them wants to be in and, therefore, are forced to develop throughout the novel. Shusterman does this in a way that is subtle yet intriguing that leaves readers on their toes. The book is also filled with noble mentors to corrupt, power-hungry officials, and everyone in between. I really liked how the point of view would switch between the main characters giving different views, thoughts, and experiences on the same plot. Also, the book has journal entries from the different scythes giving readers information of some of the pivotal scythes in the book, information on the world of Scythe, and information of what might come in the novel. Scythe is filled with some dark themes and philosophical questions that makes readers think about their world. It shows how even the most seemingly pure positions of power can become quickly corrupt with bribery and blackmail. It shows the limits of humanity and the extremes of morality. The novel is also action-packed and filled with so many plot twists that readers will not be able to put it down. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read. It kept me up late at night reading. The science fiction and language that Shusterman uses transported me into another world that is very familiar, yet very different from the one we live in. The storyline and plot twists kept me hooked, the diverse group of characters were such well written that I couldn’t get enough of them, and the concept and themes were extremely interesting. The book is the first of the series, but it could definitely be read as a stand alone with an ending that is open to imagination. This book is one of my favorites and appeals to many people of all ages.
Karla_-D More than 1 year ago
I am not a big fan of science fiction, but this book is one of my favorite books hands down. In the future, everyone is immortal and scythes are trained to glean people to keep the population under control. Scythes are chosen based on high moral standards and expected to do the job in the most humane way possible, but a new generation of scythes think that people should be picked because they love what they do. They think that the Scythedom should be a flashy, brutal, theatricality where the act of gleaning should be enjoyed. The book has themes of morality and government corruption in a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping novel. The book raises questions about, morality, humanity, and government corruption. It is definitely a book that makes you think. The book is set where humans have eliminated death and are governed by an almost omniscient artificial intelligence, the Thunderhead. The book gives you a glimpse of what humanity can be in a couple decades or so. A lot of the technology is believable and realistic and even though the world of Scythe is extremely complex, Shusterman writes in a way that is easy to understand. The characters are strong and develop fully throughout the novel. Both of the main characters are thrust in a situation that neither of them wants to be in and, therefore, are forced to develop throughout the novel. Shusterman does this in a way that is subtle yet intriguing that leaves readers on their toes. The book is also filled with noble mentors to corrupt, power-hungry officials, and everyone in between. I really liked how the point of view would switch between the main characters giving different views, thoughts, and experiences on the same plot. Also, the book has journal entries from the different scythes giving readers information of some of the pivotal scythes in the book, information on the world of Scythe, and information of what might come in the novel. Scythe is filled with some dark themes and philosophical questions that makes readers think about their world. It shows how even the most seemingly pure positions of power can become quickly corrupt with bribery and blackmail. It shows the limits of humanity and the extremes of morality. The novel is also action-packed and filled with so many plot twists that readers will not be able to put it down. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read. It kept me up late at night reading. The science fiction and language that Shusterman uses transported me into another world that is very familiar, yet very different from the one we live in. The storyline and plot twists kept me hooked, the diverse group of characters were such well written that I couldn’t get enough of them, and the concept and themes were extremely interesting. The book is the first of the series, but it could definitely be read as a stand alone with an ending that is open to imagination. This book is one of my favorites and appeals to many people of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well developed characters and surprising story twists. Fast paced, thoughtful and interesting.