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- “Shoot” is a best-selling science fiction novel for young adults.
- I do not read many sci-fi novels, but I loved the world-building and fast-paced plot in this one.
- I recommend it to anyone who likes “The Hunger Games”.
To be honest, I do not often read science fiction or fantasy novels. No matter how well written they are, I sometimes struggle to imagine the elaborate worlds that the authors have built, enriched with advanced technology or complex magic.
But it only took me three days to completely swallow “Scythe,” a wildly popular dystopian novel.
“Scythe”, a sci-fi book for young adults by author Neal Shusterman, was released in 2016 and is the first in a completed trilogy followed by “Thunderhead” and “The Toll”. It is also currently being adapted for a film by Universal Pictures.
Before I opened the book, I only knew that it was about a world where humanity has conquered mortality, and now the only way people die is at the hands of a liar – people who are designated, educated and use their lives for to manage “procure” people for population control.
When reading “Shoot,” the story follows two reluctant teenagers, Citra and Rowan, who are chosen to learn a lie, even though neither of them wants the role. As they begin to understand the lightness of lightness, their journeys are complicated by a determination: Only one becomes a scythe – and their first action will be to obtain the other.
I’m not the only one obsessed with this book. “Scythe” has good reviews – 84% of its nearly 200,000 reviews on Goodreads are 4- and 5-star – and I could not agree more. This novel is fast, involves excellent world-building, and-you heard it here first! – has the potential to become the next “Hunger Games”.
Here are the three things I loved most about “Scythe”:
The amazing world feels a lot like our own, making it easy for fans without imagination to keep up.
I generally have a problem with the extensive world structure in most fantasy and science fiction novels. Even with beloved high fantasy series like “Game of Thrones” or “The Lord of the Rings”, it’s too hard for me to keep track of all the different magic, characters, family trees and stories that are crucial to the plot, which makes them personally not very pleasant for me to read.
But in “Shoot”, the dystopia (or utopia, depending on how you see it) is built quickly and easily: it is reminiscent of the world we currently live in, but a few hundred years into the future. 2042 was the year when the world decided to combine all the information currently stored in the “cloud” into a massive artificial intelligence system known as Thunderhead.
When Thunderhead immediately knew the collective knowledge of humanity, it was able to solve the world’s hunger, inequality in wealth, and all the other problems in the world. (Sure, you could punch some holes in this, but it’s a YA science fiction novel. I just rolled with the information I was given.)
In this world, there are public cars that drive themselves, people have “nanites” in their bodies that regulate pain and emotions, and there are machines that can reset your age at any time in adulthood. Because this futuristic world felt plausible and familiar, it helped me become obsessed with the premise just as quickly as I did.
“Scythe” presents a series of ethical dilemmas that kept me invested in the story.
Most liers take the responsibility of taking a life very seriously and act with reverence towards the collectors and their families. They collect people in a similar relationship to current mortality, randomly select from a group to eliminate bias, and ensure that they distribute the population evenly across gender, race, and age.
Each lie has their own specific method of choosing who to collect. Some closely follow the statistics of mortality from before the age of immortality, while others choose based on who seems ready to finish life. Others reflect mass tragedies from history and wipe out hundreds of people at a time, but only a few times a year.
The book poses many ethical dilemmas that I do not want to ruin, but the most important is this: How does one person choose when another should die? I’m still pondering this question, which is one of the main reasons I loved the book so much, and I can not wait to read the next ones.
This book is incredibly fast-paced and full of plot twists, which made me order the sequel.
I absolutely could not put this book away from me. Each time the apprentices seemed to conquer one challenge, another arose. Even in the brief moments that seemed like breaks, there were huge overall problems that needed to be solved and kept me from turning the pages.
My only criticism is that the book did not end up in a very gripping cliffhanger. I know what issues will be addressed in the next book (do not ruin anything, promise!), But I did not feel the immediate urge to open the next one until I read the description of the sequel.
That said, I’ve already ordered the sequel, “Thunderhead,” and recommended “Scythe” to every single one of my sci-fi-loving friends.
If you’re looking for a fascinating dystopian science fiction book with all the side-scrolling suspense of “The Hunger Games,” you can read this book (and the entire “Arc of the Scythe” series).
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