As a fan of dystopia, I am extremely ashamed of myself for not picking up Scythe sooner. Okay, I guess I have to modify that a bit: as a fan of good dystopia, I’m ashamed of myself for not picking up this book sooner. This is no fluffy book focused more on the romance of a bad relationship than the society and the plot. Maybe that’s why I didn’t read it sooner. Because I thought it would be another dystopia for the sake of dystopia and not dystopia that reflects an important part of our society and teaches lessons through the characters and their perception of society.
Guys, I take my dystopia very seriously. In case you didn’t pick that up yet.
And yet, as totally crazy and picky as I am about dystopia (I didn’t like Divergent, Maze Runner, Matched, or The Selection so take from that what you will) I loved Scythe. So much that I would say it may be the best YA book I’ve read in a long time. And definitely the best YA dystopia I’ve read since Hunger Games. There. I said it. Bring it on.
Seriously though. Scythe was so good and Neal Shusterman is a genius. I loved it so much I’m afraid I might go a little bit into English-major-essay-mode here, so bear with me.
First, the worldbuilding. So good. Thought out so well and totally believable. The best part for me was that it’s a society that I could totally see ours turning into. It’s not so far-fetched as some of the others, and it had history going back to current day. All parts of the society were thought through and I didn’t see a single hole.
Second, the characters. Also great. Also believable. They were dynamic and different from each other, not just copies, even when they had similar views. There was some inner contemplation and turmoil that Shusterman did so well. No static moments where the characters just thought, and yet I always understood what they were thinking.
But the best part? The awesome dystopia-ness of the story.
I’m sure I’ll do a post totally dedicated to how much I love dystopia and why in the near future, but here’s the gist of it: good dystopia reflects part of current society. It takes a real issue, magnifies it, explores it, and tears it apart. The best dystopias manage to examine multiple issues at once, and guess what. Shusterman did just that.
Most prominent, of course, was our fascination with death. Why is media only cool if someone dies? Why do we become desensitized to death when it crops up in movies or games?
I take that back. We don’t just become desensitized to it, we glorify it.
Now this is its own topic and I’m not going to go into it here, so if you want to read more, go get Scythe and read the heck out of it.
Not only does it deal with the obsession with death, it examines celebrity culture, benefits and detriments of continued dependence on technology, the effects of mortality and pain, and about a million other hot topics.
But you know what else a good dystopia does? It deals with difficult subjects and teaches a lesson without being preachy. Friends, in case you’ve never tried writing a dystopia, or anything else with some kind of moral to it, let me tell you, this is not easy. Yet Neal Shusterman pulls it off seamlessly. Because he’s just that good.
Have I sold you yet? Because this is my favorite book I’ve reviewed for this blog yet, and I’ve reviewed some good ones. So go read it!
Recommend: Everyone! No, seriously though. Fans of YA or dystopia for sure, but even if you just kind of sometimes enjoy one or the other, I highly recommend this book.
Cleanliness: Surprisingly clean for YA dystopia! Just another great benefit. No swearing and only one or two brief, extremely vague mentions of something maybe kind of sexual. Obviously there is quite a bit of violence, but even that isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.