SCYTHE, by Neal Shusterman
Pretty much a perfect teen adventure novel. In a conflict-free world where humans have conquered death, elected Scythes must cull the human population. Two teens find themselves volunteered as apprentice-Scythes, and discover that of all the things that Scythes can kill, corruption is not one of them.
1. Over the years, I’ve heard many books touted as the successor to Hunger Games, but SCYTHE is the first one that I would really, truly stand behind, as it offers teens a complementary reading experience to that series rather than a duplicate one. Like Hunger Games, SCYTHE invites readers to both turn pages quickly but also furrow their brows over the ethical questions it asks. Tone-wise, I would place it solidly between M. T. Anderson’s FEED and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series.
2. Over the years, YA has come to encompass a wide age range — one that I feel tends to skew ever older and sometimes forget the folks who are growing out of middle grade, but slowly. SCYTHE strikes me as a true teen novel, one that I will happily thrust into the hands of even reluctant 12-14 year old readers to show them what awaits them in genre fiction. It asks enough difficult questions to stick in the mind, but it never asks them at the expense of pacing or story. Although it’s a series-starter and the end is tantalizing, it does feel like it satisfyingly stands alone (as is evidenced by its new Printz Honor sticker — the Printz is very rarely awarded to series books as the novel’s merit must be contained entirely within the volume awarded). Moreover, it is very light on the romance, something that younger readers often prefer (and somewhat difficult to find in YA).
3. Over the years, I have grown too lazy to make note of when sequels come out. I’ve made a note on my calendar for this one, though — November 2017. I look forward to another good time.