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

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Staff Reviews

Neal Shusterman has done it again! He writes books that will delight teens and adults alike without talking down to the younger bracket of his readers. His stories are complex and deal with grim realities in the most elegant ways. In a world where death has been conquered and a group of people known as Scythes are responsible for culling the population to ensure that the world remains stable anything is possible. Once I began this book, everything else I had to do I did grudgingly, wanting more than anything to spend uninterrupted reading time in this new world. The world of this novel is so fully realized. Shusterman thought of it all, from the technologies that would power his future society to the slang people would use and new ways they would get themselves into trouble. The characters inner life is rich and conflicted which makes for a great read. Simply put this book is brilliant!


Neal Shusterman's writing is other-worldly, quite literally! Shusterman builds a world where humanity has overcome everything, so you think. The story of Citra and Rowan is a complicated, layered story of death, rivalry, and friendship. When things seem just as they should be, Shusterman picks up the plot and throws it out the window! This story is definitely one of my favorites, mixing enemies to lovers, morally gray characters, and a lot of plot twists! The characters are immaculately crafted in a way that keeps you immersed in Shusterman’s clever writing. Scythe is a must read for lovers of not only the YA genre but sci-fi and fantasy! — From Athenya'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 latest 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