That is Scythe.
In a future world where death has been cured and an AI called the Thunderhead controls everything (and hasn’t turned evil), utopia has been achieved.
If you are hurt, nanites inside you dull the pain and heal you. If you accidentally die, drones will take you to a revival centre. When you reach a physical age you no longer wish to be, you can reset your body.
The Thunderhead provides for everyone, protects everyone, protects the earth. It is all powerful and in complete control… except when it comes to the Scythedom.
A world where no one dies is not sustainable, even with the super intelligent Thunderhead, so there exists a faction of humans that live outside the rules and laws the Thunderhead enforces.
The role of the scythes is to glean (randomly and permanently kill) to help control the population. And with the power to take life AND grant immunity, they are both feared and loved.
The scythes are an accepted necessity. They are respected. They are even honoured. But should they be?
Should they have the power to decide who dies, and how? Should they be allowed to live with few laws, untouchable by the AI that runs the world (and does it so well)? Can they truly remain immune to corruption?
Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch are about to find out.
Chosen as scythe apprentices, Citra and Rowan are pulled into a world of death and killing. Neither is sure they have what it takes, nor if they truly want to find out. But when they discover the secrets of the Scythedom, and the truth about the political nature of its inner workings, they become entangled in its corruption and are forced to fight to stay alive.
Scythe is a thrilling and addictive read that raises many ethical questions about humanity. It will make you think about artificial intelligence in a whole new way and create debate about the rights and wrongs of making sacrifices for the greater good.
The writing itself is pure gold. Neal Shusterman is a talented wordsmith, his writing flawlessly invisible in a way that makes you forget you’re reading a book. There are twists and turns you will never see coming, and the multiple point-of-views and largish cast of characters is handled with such care, you won’t ever feel lost or confused.
This is a book teens (and adults, too) will love, and it’s a book they really should read. It doesn’t shy away from hard truths, and it covers such a large variety of issues, it allows the reader to take many different messages away from it.
It does, of course, have themes of death, but no scenes are overly grisly, and the focus of the story is not on the actual act of killing but rather the emotions associated with taking a life.
I highly recommend Scythe as the next novel you read. It will change you in ways only good books can.
I’ve also heard whispers of a film being made, which, you will surely agree with me once you read the book, will be nothing like any film that ever came before it!
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Walker Books, $16.99
Publication Date: 1 February 2018
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult