“Scythe” is a fascinating dystopian young adult story written by Neal Shusterman.
It’s set in a futuristic society where all forms of death have been eradicated from the planet.
The only way for a person to die now is by being “gleamed” – or murdered.
However, only a handful of people have the ability to give death to the people who deserve it.
They are heavily training individuals, and are known as “scythes”.
This book follows Rowan and Citra, two teenagers who are selected to become scythes.
While learning the ways of the scythe, the teens are caught up in a terrifying and gruesome power play.
The protagonists must deal with murder and double crossings as they navigate their new roles, and try to survive everything that is happening around them.
Dystopian lovers give this book the seal of approval, and can’t seem to recommend it enough.
There are new and exciting plot twists and subplots throughout the story, and everything feels fresh.
Readers don’t have to worry about living through the same clichés and tropes, and will hang onto every word on the page.
If you loved Neal Shusterman’s “Scythe”, then you will probably love books like The Demon King, Nyxia, This Savage Song, The Murder Complex, and The Outcasts. Just take a look at our list of 10 incredible books you will love if you loved Scythe.
Themes In Scythe
Scythe has many intriguing themes for readers to be aware of. From life and morality to justice, corruption, and coming of age, there are plenty of things to keep you interested.
In this universe, the population and world are carefully watched by something known as the Thunderhead.
It sees all and is capable of performing any number of tasks required of it.
However, it cannot monitor the scythes. Law as we know it does not exist, and life is governed in a very different and sometimes difficult way.
There are issues with corruption and justice from within, and the people with the most power have been able to do what they like for hundreds of years.
In terms of morality, there are clear themes throughout the book that make the protagonists question what is and what is not.
There are major issues with corruption, which bleed into moral dilemmas as Rowan and Citra navigate their new roles and apprenticeships.
Readers will not be bored as they navigate the themes alongside the protagonists.
In a world where no one can die a natural deal and people can simply be reset to a younger age – what does life even mean?
People have little purpose or passion, because they have all the time in the world.
This is something that you will be pondering with every page. Mortality and life, and everything that comes with it, is lost.
NOTE: We always recommend reading book reviews before buying a book for any child. This is especially important in young adult fiction (If you like this, check out Books Like Here’s To Us), as there are often themes that are not suitable for children under the age of 16.
Books Like Neal Shusterman’s Scythe
Thief’s Covenant – Ari Marmell
Adrienne Satti was an orphan of Davillon, but managed to escape poverty and enter into aristocracy.
Her rags-to-riches story is everything she could ever hope for, until evil forces conspire to take her life from her.
She had to flee, leaving her life behind, and has been forced to return to the place she escaped.
Now, she is known as Widdershins, and is a thief who prides herself on her sharp wit and her sharp blade as she navigates her new life.
- Great use of comedy throughout the book
- Fast-paced and exciting
- Excellent world building and plot
- Captivating characters
- Higher levels of gore described
- Use of flashbacks is not always a fan favorite
Themes: justice, corruption, religion, fantastical
This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab
A young man and woman survive in a town overrun by monsters.
They must decide if they are to become the heroes or the villains, and also enemies or friends.
Their home is at stake if they do the wrong thing.
They are on opposite sides, with Kate being a ruthless human, and August being a kind-hearted monster.
Will they be able to pick the right side, or will everything fall apart?
- Unique and surprising story to follow
- New and exciting monsters that we aren’t used to
- Monsters aren’t as scary as they could be
- Characters may not be likable to everyone
Themes: Justice, family, family conflict, expectations, fantastical
The Murder Complex – Lindsay Cummings
Meadow Woodson is a 15-year-old whose father has trained her to survive any situation by any means.
She lives in Florida on a houseboat with her family, in a state that is controlled by The Murder Complex.
The organization tracks the human population with horrifying precision, but things get strange when Meadow meets Zephyr James.
The only problem is that he is a programmed assassin for the Murder Complex, and he doesn’t even know it.
- Fast-paced and exciting storyline
- Plenty of action and gore
- Nice romantic element with a twist
- Descriptions of blood and gore may be too much for more sensitive readers
- Shares similarities with The Bone Season
Themes: corruption, blood, gore, family, control
The Scorpion Rules – Erin Bow
Greta longs for freedom, and she will get it when she turns 18.
For now, she is stuck at the Precepture school with all the other children of the world’s leaders.
There, they are taught how to behave, and how to think, but everything changes when Elian is brought in.
He refuses to listen, and he won’t play by the rules that have been set out for them.
This opens Greta’s eyes to the cruelty of the system they live under, and she learns that some rules are meant to be broken.
- The story puts a twist on everything and has several unexpected elements to it
- Great villain to tie the story together
- LGBTQIA+ romance elements
- There seems to be a lot of talk of goats
- Some readers found there was little connection between some characters
- Plot elements have been seen before
Themes: corruption, control, violence
The Demon King – Cinda Williams Chima
Han Alister is a reformed thief who is willing to do just about anything to support his family.
However, he only has one thing of value, and he can’t sell it.
He can’t even get them off – silver, magicked cuffs. One day, Han and a friend are forced to confront three wizards causing trouble on the mountain.
When he steals one of their amulets, he soon learns that it has a dark and terrible history.
At the same time, the princess of the Fells, Raisa ana’Marianna, is returning to court after years in the mountains.
While she hopes to be more than a pretty face, her mother has her own plans for her daughter and doesn’t care about her happiness.
- Some parts of the story are slow-paced and drag
- Interesting characters
- Some plot points were a little nonsensical
- Many tropes are used throughout the story
Themes: fantastical, magic, romance, violence, corruption
The Beckoning Shadow – Katharyn Blair
Vesper can turn anyone’s greatest fear into a reality with ease, but it’s dangerous and all-consuming. If you aren’t careful, someone you love can easily get hurt.
When she earns her place in the Tournament of the Unraveling, she has the chance to change her past. Literally.
With the hopes of fixing her mistakes, she gets help from a former MMA fighter named Sam Hardy, and she is forced to take control of the powers she has feared for years.
- Great characters and storytelling
- Nice romantic elements weaved into the plot
- Many tropes that we have seen before
Themes: violence, magic, fantastical
Scythe has many elements that we can see written into the other six books mentioned on this list.
Of course, some of these books focus more strongly on other themes, however.
For example, where Scythe has minimal romance within it, The Murder Complex’s romance is an important part of the whole story.
With that being said, each of the books mentioned here brings something new to the table and gives readers something different to try.
From a more dystopian future to fantastical worlds and plots, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
It should be noted that any reader who is thinking of picking up one of these books should take into account the other themes they may have.
Some may have darker elements than others, especially regarding blood and gore.
As everyone will have different sensitivities, try to read reviews before reading a book you aren’t sure about.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes Scythe So Good?
Scythe is so good because it is a wonderful dystopian future that is grounded in reality. There are incredible technological advancements, but it has come at such a great cost that humanity is completely different.
Does Scythe Have Any Romance In It?
Yes, Scythe does have a very small romantic subplot in it. However, so much is happening in the book that it doesn’t get the chance to take center stage much!
How Many Scythe Books Are There?
There are four Scythe books to enjoy: Scythe; Thunderhead; The Toll, and Gleanings.
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