Arc of a Scythe #3.5: Gleanings – Neal Shusterman

I love the scythedom and couldn’t wait to spend more time in Citra and Rowan’s world. This anthology contains twelve short stories and one poem. There’s a bonus story in the Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition, which I’ll be reading as soon as it finishes its journey across the ocean to meet me.

There are backstories and glimpses of what happened after The Toll for some characters we already know, as well as introductions to some robes whose colours we haven’t seen before. Some stories are written by Neal Shusterman, while others are collaborations with other authors. The poem is written by Neal’s daughter, Joelle.

After a bit of a shaky start, I began to find stories that enriched what I already know of this world. Of the thirteen gleanings in this collection, I found six favourites, one short of an octave.

In Formidable, Scythe Curie has recently finished her apprenticeship and has not yet become the self assured legend she is when Citra gets to know her after her own apprenticeship.

“The future is unfettered. Long live us all!”

A Death of Many Colours sees scythe deniers being confronted with a little bit too much reality.

“Let’s give you a new perspective.”

Kohl Whitlock’s sister’s reaction to his gleaning takes us to Unsavory Row.

But giving an unsavory parameters was just a dare to break them.

In A Martian Minute, we learn Carson Lusk’s backstory.

Sometimes, when your life is wheels within wheels, you can take a wrong step and get ground up in the slow churn of the gears.

The Mortal Canvas (co-authored by David Yoon) introduces four students who create art under exceptional circumstances.

“From this moment on, no one will ever know what it feels like to be complete.”

I loved learning what became of Citra’s brother, Ben, in Anastasia’s Shadow.

It was hard enough being the brother of Scythe Anastasia. He was constantly being compared to her, and constantly being reminded that he did not compare.

I will always welcome new stories from the scythedom.

Thank you so much to Walker Books Australia for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease, or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control.

Neal Shusterman – along with collaborators David Yoon, Jarrod Shusterman, Sofía Lapuente, Michael H. Payne, Michelle Knowlden, and Joelle Shusterman – returns to the world throughout the timeline of the Arc of a Scythe series. Discover secrets and histories of characters you’ve followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.

Gleanings shows just how expansive, terrifying, and thrilling the world that began with the Printz Honor–winning Scythe truly is.

Arc of a Scythe #3: The Toll – Neal Shusterman

“Can we … do that?” Nietzsche asked.

“We’re scythes; we can do anything we please.”

Scythe is one of my favourite books of all time and I was hooked for the entire series. I love the characters. I can’t get enough of the history, mythology and practices of all of the scythes, both those I love and those I love to hate. I’ve probably spent too much time deliberating about what colour my robe would be, who I’d choose as my Patron Historic and what my gleaning MO would be.

I had so many questions going into this book and I got answers, even when they didn’t look anything like I’d expected them to. I’m satisfied with most of them, with the exception of probably the biggest of them all, where we left Rowan and Citra.

This book was well written, like the rest of the series, and I couldn’t put it down. So why aren’t I absolutely thrilled right now?

I think part of it was that for much of the book I like like I was treading water, waiting for the big finish. Characters who I absolutely adore barely spent any time together when I’d looked forward to them bantering their way through the pages.

I hurt for Faraday and, like Munira, I couldn’t make it better; the Faraday in this book didn’t feel like the Faraday that made me fall in love with the scythedom. I couldn’t spend time with one of my favourite scythes because of the events of the second book.

Greyson, who wowed me in the second book, seemed more like a puppet going through the motions for most of this one and I missed the Greyson I thought I was going to hang out with here. I desperately wanted a huge showdown with the Big Bad.

Okay, so it’s starting to sound like I hated this book, but I didn’t. It was still a four star read for me, so pretty impressive. I think it’s just a case of my expectations being so unreasonably high and, as a result, reality had no hope of growing tall enough to reach them. Even though I’ve only recently reread it, I want to read Scythe again to renew my first love.

Yes, of course I sent a test email to Loriana’s email address. No, it didn’t work.

Favourite no context quote:

And what was that old mortal-age saying? Curiosity was a cat killer?

Content warnings include death by suicide and mention of self harm.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In a world that’s conquered death, will humanity finally be torn asunder by the immortal beings it created?

Citra and Rowan have disappeared. Endura is gone. It seems like nothing stands between Scythe Goddard and absolute dominion over the world scythedom. With the silence of the Thunderhead and the reverberations of the Great Resonance still shaking the earth to its core, the question remains: Is there anyone left who can stop him?

The answer lies in the Tone, the Toll, and the Thunder.

Arc of a Scythe #2: Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman

“Well, then,” said Supreme Blade Kahlo, raising her hand in a grand dramatic gesture, “let the wild rumpus start!”

I tend to be one of those people who read the next book in a series I’m following as soon as it’s published (earlier if I can get my hands on an advanced copy) and then spend the next year hanging precariously over a cliff while I wait to find out what’s going to happen next. All I can think after finishing this book is how grateful I am that this time, I’m late to the party.

I read Scythe for the first time shortly after it was released and began this book soon after it was published. Then something happened, which I can’t even remember now, that took me away from it before I finished and unfinished it’s remained. Until now. I don’t know how I would have managed if I’d had to wait a year to see how everything unfolds from here but it wouldn’t have been pretty. This is a series you definitely need to binge.

I love vigilante Rowan, AKA, Scythe Lucifer. He’s not just making corrupt scythes deadish; he’s making sure they don’t come back. As he researched his potential targets and stalked them prior to taking their lives, he reminded me of the Green Arrow. I wanted his kills to come with a catchphrase … You have failed this Scythedom.

Meanwhile, Citra (now Scythe Anastasia) did me proud as a junior scythe. Taking on the best of what both of her mentors taught her but making it her own, Citra’s scythe MO was compassionate and thoughtful, and everything I expected from her.

“She is a fresh voice of reason and responsibility. She can make the old ways new again. Which is why they fear her.”

However, it was her strength, tenacity and courage that really captivated me. It’s one thing to do the right thing but it’s another thing entirely when the right thing isn’t the easy thing and your decisions come with consequences you can’t necessarily predict and aren’t always in your favour.

The big surprise for me, though, was Greyson. I didn’t expect much from him, even though it was clear from the beginning that his role in this series was going to be significant. I enjoyed watching as he began to transform into Slayd. His journey introduced me to unsavouries, whose particular brand of rebellion I found fascinating.

I need to live in the restored Great Library of Alexandria. It contains 3.5 million volumes of scythe journals!

Favourite no context quotes:

Permission is the bloated corpse of freedom.

“We are forever impaled upon our own wisdom.”

“Deadish men tell no tales for a while.”

To borrow a new favourite phrase, this book was “fun-and-a-half”. I’m starting The Toll immediately.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Humans learn from their mistakes. I cannot. I make no mistakes.

The Thunderhead is the perfect ruler of a perfect world, but it has no control over the scythedom. A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.

As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Old foes and new enemies converge, and as corruption within the Scythedom spreads, Rowan and Citra begin to lose hope. Will the Thunderhead intervene?

Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?

Arc of a Scythe #1: Scythe – Neal Shusterman

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.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.