Hope in the shadow of fear is the world’s most powerful motivator.
This book became one of my favourite reads of all time when I met Citra and Rowan five years ago. Since then I’ve wanted to visit them again but, like all of the books I’ve fallen in love with as an adult, I’ve procrastinated my reread. I wanted to hold onto the love at first read that I experienced. I was concerned that the shine wouldn’t be there the second time around.
I needn’t have worried. I didn’t think it possible but the reread shone even brighter for me. The characters I knew and loved, and those I loved to hate, came to me fully formed; I didn’t need to reacquaint myself with them, even after all of this time.
Citra and Rowan have been selected to undertake an apprenticeship. They will be spending the next year competing against one another for a job neither of them want. Ironically, this makes them the perfect candidates. Although they are both going to be trained by Scythe Faraday, their apprenticeships will be vastly different.
Theirs is a world of splats and revival centres, where nanites can dull your pain but also limit the spectrum of your emotions. It’s also a world where serial killers are not only sanctioned but revered. Here they’re called scythes and their kills aren’t murder; they’re gleanings.
Scythes have a quota of 260 gleanings per year. While this sounds like death is around every corner, your odds of being gleaned in the next 100 years are only 1 in 100.
On the one hand, I have trouble imagining living in a world where we know everything there is to know and have conquered disease and mortality itself. On the other hand, I was fully immersed in Citra and Rowan’s world. I believed.
I imagined the joy of having time to learn everything I wanted to learn, read all of the books on my TBR list and experience everything I’ve ever dreamed of. But because time’s no longer finite, the urgency of our world doesn’t exist in Citra and Rowan’s. There’s nothing left to strive towards, nothing new to discover.
With nothing to really aspire to, life has become about maintenance. Eternal maintenance.
I adored Scythe Faraday, with his thoughtful, compassionate approach. I loved the excerpts from scythes’ journals that caused me to think more deeply about their world as well as our own. I’m still chewing on the philosophical and moral issues raised in this book.
Favourite no context quote:
Well, she could learn self-control tomorrow. Today she wanted pizza.
This remains one of my favourite books of all time. I can’t wait to binge the rest of the series.
Once Upon a Blurb
Thou shalt kill.
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.