Book Talk with Harleigh Wiesenbach: Scythe

By Features Editor Harleigh Wiesenbach

  In a perfect, futuristic world without peril, teenagers Citra and Rowan have been chosen to be apprenticed by a scythe. Scythes are humans above the law and trained in the art to kill, and their job is to do just that. They are instructed to do so to keep the population under control, since the only way to die without being revived is to be killed by a scythe. But neither Citra nor Rowan want to become scythes, making them all the better candidates. During their apprenticeship, their own lives become in danger. The only thing they can do is play along so that one of them becomes a scythe. But the farther they get in their training, the more corrupt they find the Scythedom to be, and are faced with a challenge of morals.

  Scythe by Neal Shusterman quickly became one of my favorite books and definitely is a five out of five stars. I’m not normally one to read dystopian/utopian novels (I usually love the world building, but hate how the plots end up seeming repetitive), but this one was just really refreshing. The writing style seemed unlike most books I’ve read, and the plot was really intriguing and different than most dystopian/utopian novels I’ve come across.

  To start off, the story is told in a blend of switching point of views and a third person omniscient perspective, which I don’t think I’ve seen since . . . ever. Most books I’ve read are normally in either first person or third person limited, and while I’m sure this isn’t the only book like that out there, it’s a first for me. And it’s not as overwhelming as one may think. The writing does give a little bit of information about the surrounding characters that the reader probably wouldn’t know were it not presented to them, but it’s main focus is of Citra and Rowan. The point of view also, for the most part, only switches between Rowan and Citra. And honestly, for the purpose of this book and it’s plot, I loved it. Like I said before, it was a really refreshing read and this is one of the biggest reasons as to why.

  Another reason why I consider this book to be separate (in a good way) from all the other books I’ve read is to how surprisingly deep it was. I remember being around 40 pages in and thinking “man, this is some really deep stuff.” It’s not deep as in questioning your existence deep per se, but it was definitely deep in the sense that it got you thinking a little. It wasn’t so deep that it was dense, either. The morals laced itself in with the plot quite nicely, and I was both hooked on the messages the story had as well as the plot itself.

  Speaking of the plot: like I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t repetitive like most dystopian/utopian stories I’ve read. When I hear the words dystopia or utopia, I normally think of either Divergent or The Hunger Games (while I am aware these books are dystopian and this is utopian, I tend to pair the two together because of how similar I’ve noticed the books normally are) and any other book series that has even a remotely similar plot line. But this was neither Divergent nor The Hunger Games. Scythe presented an interesting spin on the whole Utopian society. (Warning: this may be considered a spoiler to some, but it is presented towards the beginning of the book anyways) In the sense of government, everything is ruled by what is called the Thunderhead: a big AI system with human characteristics, more or less, and keeps the peace, helps people with their miniscule problems, and so on. The only government like the one we have today is within the Scythedom. A problem that grows more and more throughout the novel is how corrupt it is. I’m going to stop there before I spoil anything else, but it was really interesting to me.

  The plot was also interesting in the sense of the main characters Rowan and Citra themselves. I liked the kind of relationship they had between them, and the way they both viewed their circumstances. They are two very different characters in the same situation, and it’s very intriguing to me how it plays out for the both of them.

  I would recommend this series to anyone who is interested in YA dystopian/utopian novels; if you already have a love for the genre, you will not be disappointed. I would also recommend it to anyone who doesn’t normally read books like this and wants something new and refreshing to try out or anyone who likes to have deep conversations or to read things with deep messages. And for those of you who come to love the novel: there is a second book called The Thunderhead that just recently came out. Knock yourselves out.

  Hello! I’m Harleigh Wiesenbach and this is my second year as features editor on the Montour Monitor. My sophomore year I worked on the centerspread each month as the centerspread editor, so I’m no stranger to the newspaper staff. Unfortunately, this is my senior year, but I plan on making it amazing by working hard on our issues each month and making as many new ideas get put into action as possible! So keep an eye out for all of our work; we really work hard each month to make sure we produce great daily articles and amazing monthly issues on our website.

  Not only am I involved with my school’s newspaper, I’m also a member of Poetry Club, Lost Arts Club, Girl Up, GSA, and Stand Together as well as play trumpet in marching band. Based on that, I’m sure that you can figure out that I’m a huge fan of poetry, although I love to read books as well. My favorite genre is modern fantasy but I’ll read just about anything. My favorite series is The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Other than reading, I also love to knit, draw, and write in my free time.

  Another passion of mine is mental health. I want to be a type of psychologist/therapist once I graduate, although I’m not 100% sure what type as of yet. I love helping others, especially when it comes to cheering them up and talking about their issues.

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