Scythe (Simon and Schuster books for Young Readers, 2016) by Neal Shusterman is a WOW of a book.
Is it a utopian or dystopian novel? There’s no sickness, disease, politics, war, or natural death. Yet people keep being born and so the population has to be controlled somehow. That’s where the scythes come in–they are gleaners who must take life to reduce the size of the population. They are set apart–can’t marry or have children. And they must record the deaths of those they take.
Here are the Scythes’ Commandments
Thou shalt kill.
Thou shalt kill with no bias, bigotry, or malice aforethought.
Thou shalt grant an annum of immunity to the beloved of those who accept your coming . . .
Thou shalt kill the beloved of those who resist . . .
As you can imagine, the scythes in their identifiable robes are to be avoided if at all possible. So when two teens are asked to be the apprentice of Scythe Faraday, you can imagine that neither Citra or Rowan are pleased. On the other hand, scythes never are in want, and their families have immunity as long as the scythe lives. And that’s just the beginning of the story.
Mixed in with the narrative are excepts from different scythe journals. It’s a compelling read–hard to put down. Not a surprise since Neal Shusterman is a bestselling author. Go here to see learn more about him. I personally love his Antsy Bonano books.
Despite having to suspend my disbelief at the agreement that forms the premise of this book, I can’t forget Unwind (Simon and Schuster, 2007) by Neal Shusterman. In this story abortions aren’t allowed, but when kids are between the ages of 13 and 18 parents can choose to have them “unwound,” where all body parts will be used. Of course, people always find a way to get rid of unwanted babies, in this case by “storking.” This powerful story presents multiple sides of the issues. Meet the characters who will be unwound: Connor, because he’s a trouble maker; orphan Risa, to save expenses; and Lev, a tithe dedicated from birth. Once you’re hooked, you’ll find it hard to put down.
See Neal talk about some of the inspiration for this award winning book here. Then check out this brilliant author’s long list of books.
Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world,” but that’s not true for fiction writers and especially science fiction and fantasy writers who create worlds in which to set their stories. Some are an imagined future for our own world, some our world altered, and others totally new worlds. The best ones, however, convince me completely of their world no matter where or when it is.
Downsiders by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster, 1999) is one of those. I only just discovered the book, which means I won’t have to wait long for the sequel coming out in 2007. It’s a story of Downsiders, who live below New York City, and what happens when their world collides with Topsiders. I found it fascinating, believable, and despite the gravity of the topic, with moments of humor. Definitely a good read that will find its place on my ever-crowded shelves.
Read more about Neal and his writing at http://www.storyman.com/
The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004) is a very, very good middle grade novel. I loved the main character’s voice, his attitudes, how he talks about New Jersey I know I’ll reread it, because I’ll want to spend time with Antsy again.
“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.” -Gilbert Highet, writer (1906-1978)
Here’s a brief introduction to the story: Anthony (Antsy) has discovered his classmate Calvin Schwa has a magical ability to be invisible. The two band up to make money out of the dares other kids challenge them to–i.e. the Schwa can sneak into the teachers’ break room and listen to what’s going on without getting caught or even noticed. Their money making scheme works well until they get caught by Old Man Crawley.
To read about the author, go to: http://www.storyman.com/