Let’s Flail is a thing where I get really excited about a book and then post a moderately incoherent raving about it. Basically, I can’t do the book justice, because its words are far better than mine. Also, it is a book that is totally a new favorite, so yay! Here are some past books that made the cut!

Today’s special guest is one of my absolute most anticipated books of 2016. So… here we go! 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 22nd 2016
Pages: 448
Format:ARC, eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss, Traded

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.


I have made no secret that I think that Neal Shusterman is an absolute genius. Not just in his writing, which is extraordinary, but his storytelling is just… it’s masterful. I haven’t read a book of his yet that hasn’t completely blown my mind, been incredibly thought provoking, and full of emotion. I tell you this because you need to know that this book was so hyped in my head that I was kind of scared for it. And yet, through all my self-hype, somehow it exceeded my expectations, because that is just how freaking amazing Neal Shusterman is.

Where do I even start? Okay. So sometimes when I read books I make notes on little flags. Only when something really makes me think, or needs to be remembered. Well… practically everything in this book made me think, gave me something to ponder. So I have lots of flags. All the flags, basically.


Exhibit A

Let’s talk a bit about particular components of this book that I extra adored, shall we? Great.

Life & Death

Obviously, death is kind of the whole basis of the plot. Or rather, the lack of death. But of course that becomes a problem, as you can imagine because of overpopulation. The questions this book poses are too numerous to list here, but it will make you think. Would you want to live forever? What would you do if you were a Scythe? Or chosen by one? Does life lose meaning if it never ends? See, you’re thinking already, and this is literally just the tip of the iceberg.

Little bits of humor and humanity in a lovely cast of characters

The little moments that are interjected throughout the endlessly heavy ones are absolute perfection. Citra and Rowan are just teens, after all, and I like that though they are going through this life altering apprenticeship, they still have a lot of thoughts and emotions like normal teens would. Even the scythes themselves have personality, little quirks that set them apart from just being all business all the time. And after (in some cases) centuries of scythedom, they retain their core humanity.

Presents a plethora of complex moral issues

“Will we all be renaissance children, skilled at every art and science, because we’ve had the time to master them? Or will boredom and slavish routine  plague us even more than it does today, giving us less of a reason to live limitless lives? I dream of the former, but suspect the latter.”

This book is so incredible at making the reader question so many things. The “good guys” aren’t all good, the “villains” not all bad. It’s far more complicated, and left me reeling, in the best possible way. Even if I hated a character, I sometimes understood them. And even the most honorable of characters were prone to mistakes. At the end of the day, these were human beings deciding on which fellow human beings lived and died, and nothing can be more morally complex than that.

The relevance in our current social climate is on point

I wrote this on one of my little flags, which frankly, sums it all up:


Seriously though. I read this pre-election, and I dare say it is far more relevant now. It speaks of political upheaval and corruption, religious and personal freedoms, and who exactly decides what is deemed ethically “correct”. I am not going to get into it past that, because you need to read this book yourself.

Bottom Line: Hands down, one of my favorite books of all time. Incredibly thought provoking, beautifully written, and full of the complexity I have come to expect from Neal Shusterman. Go forth and read.


This is out today, so happy book birthday to Scythe! My finished copy should be on my porch tonight, yay! Do you enjoy morally complex books? 

Posted November 22, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Let's Flail, Review / 20 Comments


20 responses to “Let’s Flail: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

  1. YOU LOVING THIS IS A VERY GREAT SIGN THAT I’M GOING TO LOVE THIS BOOK TOO! I’m super excited for this (definitely my most anticilated for fall) and I love every Neal Shusterman book I’ve read as well. his characters and his storytelling is the best!! and basically how thought provoking they are. You just made me even more excited for this book!!

  2. YES YES I LOVE MORALLY COMPLEX BOOKS!! And I thought this was the case with Unwind too?? (I haven’t finished the series though because I am the worst.) It made me think so much and I thought it presented different perspectives so well. So I dyyying to read Scythe. Actually I nearly started it yesterday and then decided to go with The Female of The Species haha because I’m also mildly scared of huge books and Scythe is kind of huge? BUT WHATEVER. I’M READING IT SOON!!! I love Neal Shusterman’s writing. Challenger Deep too tho. omg.?

    • YEP definitely the case with Unwind too! I mean, Female of the SPecies is a solid choice. Mindy McGinnis is another auto-buy author for me, so I feel you. But Scythe wasn’t that long- and it definitely didn’t FEEL that long! 448 pages isn’t *too* bad, right? 😉 And YES Challenger Deep was incredible- and I liked this one even more! I hope you LOVE IT!

  3. I have heard nothing but awesome things about this book! I have to admit that it kind of slipped under my radar until like two weeks ago when everyone started posting about it, so I’m definitely going to pick up a copy! So glad you enjoyed this one, I’m looking forward to reading it!

  4. I love morally complex books. It’s great when something can really make you think. I NEED to read this one. It just has such a great premise and I’m so glad that you loved it and it exceeded your expectations!


  5. I’ve seen a lot of hype surrounding this book and it made me nervous, as expected. With such high expectations I found that I didn’t want to pick it up so soon but you have completely thwarted these plans. I love that the characters fall in those shades of grey. There’s nothing better than exploring the complexities of humanity so I am definitely going to be picking up this book soon. 😀

  6. I HAVE STARTED THIS AND YES IT IS REALLY REALLY REALLY GOOD. I’m really excited to continue reading this because I was pretty much hooked from the beginning. And now reading your review, which normally I don’t read reviews of books I’m currently reading, IT HAS MADE ME MORE EXCITED. Neal Shusterman is just amazing.

    And of course you have a finished copy coming LOL

  7. I’ve only read one book by Neal Schusterman, Challenger Deep and that was an incredible experience. I love how this one makes you think and it’s such a topical read! I will have to put this on hold at the library now. Lovely review Shannon!

  8. So glad you could absolutely love this book by an author you adore as much as you did! I really like the sound of all the themes it covers. I mean, life and death, referring to issues worldwide which we are all facing now so we can relate AND moral issues being discussed? It sounds all too good to be true. So looking forward to reading this one, it’s on my TBR!

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