8 May 2023

Review: ARC OF A SCYTHE Series by Neal Shusterman


Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a SCYTHE #1
Source: Audible
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 22, 2016

Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:
Representation: LGBTQ+ and POC side characters

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.
Content Warning:  Abuse, Assault, Bullying, Death (including child), Fatphobia, Fire, Grooming, Mass Killings, Murder, Suicide, Torture, Violence.

ARC OF A SCYTHE is Neal Shusterman's young adult dystopian series centering on life and death. The series centers around two teens who are chosen to be scythe apprentices, a role that neither wants. They must master the "art" of taking life, knowing that the consequences of failure could mean losing their own.

The books are set in a world without hunger, disease or war, in a future where humanity has even conquered death. The Scythes are the only ones who can end a life and are tasked with controlling the size of the population.

But for Citra and Rowan - two teens apprenticed to be scythes against their will - this perfect world comes with a heavy price, as they have to master the art of killing. Only one will be chosen as the Scythe, and the other will face execution from his or her opponent. 

The Arc of a Scythe series is a thought-provoking, dark, but witty thriller trilogy with an anthology collection that was published in 2022.


This was good and really interesting - I thought the world was cool and I want to see where it evolves to - but I also was bored during some of it and looking forward to getting to the more interesting parts rather than focusing on what was happening in front of me.

I thought the dual perspective didn't work until they were separated and that there could have been more in general that was discussed. But I am looking forward to seeing where the next book goes!

One thing that Shusterman does really well in all of his books is make you question how you perceive certain aspects. This book is about life and death, but it's also about power and love. I think it has a really interesting message around the importance of understanding who you are and the boundaries you have with people in power.

I would have liked the dual perspectives to be narrated by multiple audiobook narrators, but it worked overall still!


There were a lot of new POVs that were coming into this book, but while I thought that this detracted the first time I read it, I actually really enjoyed it! I was still caught off guard with how many different layers there are to this, the ending especially being what it was!

I thought there was a lot of really good plot aspects to this, especially the relationships between Rowan and Citra. Thunderhead is my new favourite character and the chapter breaks from their perspective really hit differently this time around. The amount of weight and pressure on them is just so well written and I enjoyed seeing how that played out into the story itself.

I highly recommend reading this series and am excited to finally being able to finish it!


I'm so glad I finally finished this series! There were so many amazing moments throughout the entire series and I highly enjoyed the conclusion. While I do wish there had been more Rowan and Citra in this installment, I was really happy with the other POVs that were incorporated and the ending! I have the 3.5 - Gleanings but I think I'm going to savour that a bit.

But this book was way too longer. It was both of the others together in length and that meant that too much dragged throughout. I wanted a bit more snappy action, especially with the crossover in timelines, and was just a little disappointed with how long it took to get to the good parts.

I loved the dystopian within a dystopian setting and aspects of this. I'm glad there were discussions around gender identity and expressions.

Definitely recommend this series!!


Honestly this was kinda meh for me. I stayed up really late finishing it and I'm not sure it was worth it. It provided insights into other Scythes and the world itself but it took away from the rest of the series in my opinion. Maybe that's because I read it all back-to-back-to-back but it just didn't feel like it flowed well with the others. I think some of these stories (or at least parts of them) would have made better epigraphs during the series rather than their own stories.

If you haven't read the books in a while and want to be back in the series, this is a good way to do it but I think I wouldn't recommend unless you truly loved the series.

Have you read this series? Are you going to pick this up?

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