REVIEW: Scythe

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Neal Shusterman has released another fantastic novel over the holiday weekend (which I immediately purchased on Black Friday.) This time, instead of a dystopian world where abortion is illegal and kids between 12 and 17 can be “unwound,” Scythe takes place in a utopian world where all knowledge has been been achieved and death has been conquered. However, in a world where overpopulation is quickly increasing due to the lack of, well, people dying, an organization of sanctioned killers must take it upon themselves to glean those humans. Those who must take on this task are called Scythes.

The story follows Citra and Rowan, two seventeen year old kids who are chosen by Honorable Scythe Faraday to learn the ways of scythdom and to become the next Scythes. However, only one of them can become a Scythe – and eventually, a new rule is declared where the winner must glean the loser.

I was immediately intrigued by this story, and Shusterman does a great job of throwing us into this world. The first chapter follows Citra’s first encounter with Scythe Faraday, who comes to her home for a meal and then visits their neighbor to glean her. The second chapter follows Rowan, where he is at school when Scythe Faraday arrives to glean the star football player.

Both of these chapters were powerful scenes that established what this utopia was like, thrust the plot forward, and made me connect with the main characters.

Throughout the book, I flipped on who I would want to win this battle between apprentices: Citra, who has strong morals and is quick on her feet, or Rowan, who has the strength and skill to be a good Scythe. I won’t spoil much, but the ending was very satisfying regarding who you end up rooting for. Shusterman does a great job at making it an even race and showing the growth between these two young adults as they’re forced into a world they would much rather ignore.

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REVIEW: Challenger Deep

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One of my favorite authors of all time is Neal Shusterman. I fell in love with his Unwind series, and have been influenced greatly by his writing style and story telling. However, his novel “Challenger Deep” moved me in ways I can barely describe. This was by far one of the best books I’ve read this year for so many different reasons.

First, I was instantly drawn to this book by it’s subject matter. As a person who deals with anxiety and has a strong interest in mental illness and psychology, I couldn’t wait to read this story, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is one of the most important books of the year in my opinion. It takes a subject that affects so many people on the planet and fashions it into a medium where we can all safely step into the shoes of someone who is dealing with these challenges. It sheds a light on a serious medical condition that most people shun or abhor.

Second, the writing is perfection. Neal Shusterman is a master at writing compelling stories with gripping and realistic characters. I was able to sink myself into the book with ease, much like Caden does with his thoughts. The book is divided into small segments, almost like diary entries, and are titled with compelling sentences that peak your curiosity. And then there are the shifts in pov. When Caden is at his worst, at his most dissociative with himself, at his darkest, the perspective shifts from first person to third person. You really feel like you are disconnected with reality as you read Caden talk about himself like he was watching a movie or a play. This was a brilliant way to demonstrate the dissociation that happens with schizophrenia.

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