Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)” as Want to Read:
Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Arc of a Scythe #1)

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  55,318 ratings  ·  10,651 reviews
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 mus
Hardcover, 435 pages
Published November 22nd 2016 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Scythe, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Vale You might want to try Unwind. It's the first book in a quartet and is dystopian as well. There is also a subtle romance but is still quite different…moreYou might want to try Unwind. It's the first book in a quartet and is dystopian as well. There is also a subtle romance but is still quite different from this book. (less)
Jenna It's Roland from Unwind, and I don't think this is supposed to be a spin-off of Unwind, it's rather an entirely new series.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Emily May
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I struggled with rating Scythe because I initially liked the concept. A post-mortality society sounded interesting, but I just can't overlook how boring it was. I'm someone who finishes the average YA book in a couple of days, and this one was a painful week-long process.

In this future world, natural death is a thing of the past. The Internet is an all-powerful sentient being called the Thunderhead and all knowledge has been acquired. There is nothing left to learn. People have nanites in their
Emma Giordano
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
5/5 Stars!! One of my absolute favorite books I have read in a while. A MUST MUST MUST READ. I can’t even begin to string coherent words together for a review. I love everything about this novel.

Check out my video review!:

TW: murder/death, suicide

The world of Scythe is fascinating. With so many advances due to technology and research, it becomes a plausible future for our society which is equal parts interesting and terrifying. This story poses a lot of t
Maggie Stiefvater
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pretty much a perfect teen adventure novel. In a conflict-free world where humans have conquered death, elected Scythes must cull the human population. Two teens find themselves volunteered as apprentice-Scythes, and discover that of all the things that Scythes can kill, corruption is not one of them.

1. Over the years, I've heard many books touted as the successor to Hunger Games, but SCYTHE is the first one that I would really, truly stand behind, as it offers teens a complementary reading exp
شيماء ✨

dearly beloved… we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of my high expectations and also, the very last fuck I ever gave.

The worst thing about unrequited love is how much effort and time and money you pour into it; how much of your own self you can invest into this one entity that never shows you a sliver of gratitude or appreciation. You can be there through thick and thin, through the tears and the sweat and the blood and through all the ugly times with zero complaint...but have it amo
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Re-Read on Audio because the 2nd books comes soon =)

Here's the youtube video of the book. It's pretty awesome!


I freaking love this book!


Citra and Rowen are two teenagers who get the pleasantry of meeting the honorable Scythe Faraday. No one wants to run into a scythe, much less talk to one or spend any kind of time with one. They have the ability to kill you if they see fit. That is their duty. But Citra and Rowan had the chance to meet this particular scythe and they were both not very
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2018
( • . •)
/ > 📕Kelly, can u handle this?

( • . •)
/ > 📕Michelle, can u handle this?

( • . •)
/ > 📕 Beyoncé, can u handle this?

( •- •)
📕< \ I don’t think Kai can handle this


( • . •)
/>📕<\ Kai handled it.

and here is what he says:

Scythe was fun but not perfect. I enjoyed the dystopian world and the concept behind it: what if, instead of an apocalypse or WWIII, humanity's future turned out to be a bright one? Death is conquered, humanity has turned immo
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-fell-in-love

I finished the book and I was literally ‘oh-my-goddin’ my way through. I’m exasperated. Blown away. I was touching my five-head in disbelief, because my mind has been blown to pieces due to this story and how ingenious it was.

I’m pretty sure I became high. And now, I’ve been left exhausted by all the excitement!

Hello to my favourite new author. *bows down endlessly*

Now that my sorta headache has disappeared and my mind is still on the verg
Sabaa Tahir
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know what to expect going into this book, and wanted to read it because 1. Neal Shusterman is an incredible writer and 2. Anything with a scythe on the cover has my interest.

This turned out to be a fascinating book that made me think much more deeply about death, but more importantly, about modern life and how the challenges we face in it are what make it worth living. Neal creates a truly original utopian world that looks great on the surface, but has a pretty nasty underbelly (like a
Helen 2.0
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi, horror, 2016, own, faves
Spontaneous reread in anticipation of Thunderhead :) the thought process went a little like this -

Me: I should focus on my planned reads for this month and not get behind when we’re only 3 days into the new year!
Insidious inner voices: ssssssssssscythe!!!
Me: you make some really good points


Scythe defies all YA tropes and is incredibly quotable. What more can you ask for?

Exhibit A:
"I think all young women are cursed with a streak of unrelenting foolishness, and all young men a
This book was a very pleasant surprise! Since the YA library of fiction has become saturated with dystopian tales, it is often hard to find originality. Because of that, the stories quickly become boring because we have "been there, done that". That is not the case here!

Key pros:
- Unique story, well presented
- Great characters
- Action and suspense
- Little (if any) filler
- Left me wanting more

Key con:
- St. Louis is not the capital of Missouri

If you are a fan of YA - especially YA dystopian fictio
Christina - Traveling Sister
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dpl, favorites
5, I am dead now and this review is my eulogy, never has a rating been easier stars!!!

Full review along with a recipe for my Mimi's chicken noodle soup on my blog Recipe & a Read!

Christina Loeffler (Jones) – Born: September, 21 1989. Died: November, 6 2018. Cause of Death: Scythe by Neal Shusterman.

Ok, ok, all jokes aside I’m obviously not dead because I still have to finish the second installment of this series! However, this book SLAYED me with it’s sheer magnificence and brilliance. The w
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This month has been nothing short of ‘surprise the shit outa’ Nani, month’ and I’m here here for it! Please, keep ‘em coming. The good ones that is; I don’t want to leave anything to chance.

People, this was cray!!!
And to think I looked down my nose at it for over a year. I could be such a pea-brain sometimes.

What I absolutely loved above all was the world. The utterly believable, meticulously woven, intricately fleshed out world that left nothing to chance.

What a sobering and terrifying
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
i honestly had no expectations for this book whatsoever, so i think its pretty safe to say that this was so much better than i thought it would be! and i can definitely understand the hype - the concept was just so fascinating. maybe its because i havent read a dystopian novel in quite some time, but i found this to be so interesting!

the writing was so nicely done, as well. it was quite crafty in a way - i felt like there were so many little cliffhangers throughout the book that i had the immens
Sep 18, 2018 marked it as to-read
The ratings are insane. Is it THAT good?
C.G. Drews
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
So this book is basically just about murder. Exciting! All I want to do is say "MURDER, JOHN" like Sherlock wood, so imagine me doing that. Anyway! I had super high expectations for this because every blogger, bookworm, and semi-literate fish I know has raved over it. I also love Challenger Deep and Unwind a LOT, so I knew this was going to be excellent!

+ It's a dystopian with this perfect world where there is no death: so some people become scythes to keep the balance.
This is a very cool premis
Evgnossia O'Hara
May 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
See this review on my BookTube channel here. It's in Greek but, I plan a lot of interesting things in English as well :)

Review was originally published on my Blog Through the Chapters

I’m in minority given the high ratings and the positives reviews on this book, but I want to be honest regarding my reading experience and the truth is that I struggled reading Shythe. The premise was interesting, but it was the only interesting part of the story. You might as well read the synopsis and mark the boo
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok

Human: Did you hear that?
Me: Yeah, that was just the sound of my expectations shattering on the concrete after jumping from the tenth floor.


Where do I even start?

Somebody please explain the hype to me because I honestly don’t get it. Usually when I dislike a popular book, I can at least see why other people might enjoy it. This time however, I do not see it.

Okay! Before anyone bites my head off, let me just explain everything I disliked about the book.

The writing style

"Rowan let o
Robin (Bridge Four)
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Unwind, Black Mirrors
Audible Daily Deal Sale until 28Jan18 $3.95 This was one of my favorite reads of 2016.

Reread with some BB&Bers

What if you could kill people and be Death himself.


What if cancer and all the worlds diseases were healed and our understanding of how to heal everybody was so great that you could pretty much save anyone from practically anything that would have killed them.

What if you could totally turn back the clock so that even though you are fifty-two or seventy-five you could look like you
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

It seems to be a thing for me. I love the ideas of Neal Shusterman but I'm never sure I end up loving the books.
I'm not sure I will continue the series but if the premise intrigues you, give it a shot!
Larry H
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Wow. Mind totally blown by this one.

In a future world, mortality, war, illness, hunger have all been eradicated. Injuries are quickly healed by the body's own (amped-up) healing properties. Even aging is something you can counter—when you're tired of being your age, you can "turn" yourself into someone younger—over and over and over again.

The only way to control the population is through gleaning—killings of seemingly random people—and they are carried out by scythes, individuals commanded to c
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This book could very easily be a standalone so i'm very curious to see where the next book will go!
Yusra  ✨
you can read this review and more on my blog!

Scythe was insane. I don’t think I’ve ever read something so dark and brutal and strangely addictive (that may just be because I don’t read horror). So if you’re like me and not a fan of horror movies/books, rest assured that this is definitely on the milder side.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be great for fans of the genre; it definitely has the entice and thrill.

I’ve been at a weird position practically since the start of 2018 where dystopians are so
Oct 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
A world where natural death is obsolete thereby requiring a dedicated use of "Sycthes" (who are the only ones authorised to kill) and while most Scythes honour the process, there are a few bad apples who use their powers for evil.

And so the killing ensues. Mass killings, done in the name of upholding the law and on I read until, subconsciously, gradually, I found myself falling into a state of despair. It took a good 2 hours before realizing I didn't really need to read this book (why would an
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink

THIS WAS SO GOOD. How did I wait so long to read it?

I'll post a full review at some point - but there's so many good ones out there already. For now, I'll just say that I don't normally like futuristic dystopians all that much (Marie Lu aside because she's an absolute queen) but omg I loved this one.

The hubs and I actually read it together on audio, and we laughed are way through it -and where shocked out of our chairs more than once.

Well done, Mr. Shusterman. Well done.
Alana • thebookishchick
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, dystopian
Hello, Internet Police?
Yes, I would like to block and report myself for sleeping on this book for so long.

I am so mad at myself for not reading this book earlier. I mean, it's only been all over my Goodreads timeline since it was released in 2016! I'm sure you've all heard the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover", well yeah, DON'T! Learn from my mistake because I was hit with instant regret the second I picked this up.

The world of Scythe is one of the most incredible, thought-provoking, an
may ❀
So this review is about 35 months late. Who’s fault is that I wonder? 🤔


You know that moral compass that you thought was ingrained in your psyche and like pshhh, you can totally differentiate between right and wrong. Yeah, well, get ready to have that tested.

Scythe takes place in a synthetic, dystopian world where technological advancements have allowed them to overcome death. Sounds great, amirite. Well, no, gotta keep the population under control.

So these dudes, scythes, have it in their
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
hi what’s up i’m moving my rating down to 2.5 stars because i am petty and bitter.

basically, i just thought this book ended up being super bland? i was under the impression from the synopsis that this was going to be a super cool and unique dystopian with some great characters and plot etc. etc. and what did i get? not that. if you look at this book, i mean really look at it, you will see two main characters who idk about you but i have seen in so many other books (there’s nothing new about the
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
WHOAH! Dieses Buch hatte mit Abstand eines der besten Plottwists ever! 😱 Ich habe selten so ein kreatives Fantasybuch gelesen, weswegen ich mich jetzt umso mehr auf Band 2 freue. Neil Shusterman hat es geschafft eine geheimnisvolle aber so fasznierte Welt zu schreiben, die einen einfach nur umhaut! Lest es bitte alle, denm es war GENIAL! Zählt vermutlich jetzt schon zu meinen absoluten Jahreshighlights 😍👀
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: okay-shelf, ya

"Thou shalt kill."

Okay, so YA isn't my normal genre of choice for a number of reasons, the genre itself is pretty bland and most books are samey same but this book was extremely different to the normal stereotypical YA read, it would also have to be one of my favourite YA books to date, it's up there next to Illuminae. For a book about death and morbid shit I expected a lot more death, and wished the author didn't hold back while delivering the goods like there wasn't enough blood and t
Sh3lly (

This biznitch is going on my favorites shelf and is one of the best books I read this year. Oh yes. All the stars!

In a utopian world of the future, the Thunderhead is the artificial intelligence that governs all. It contains all the memories and history of humankind. It knows exactly how to funnel resources and where to send them so there is no hunger. There is no war. There is no sickness. There is no death.

People have nanites injected to speed up healing and functionality of the body. They
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Metaltown
  • The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1)
  • Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)
  • Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles, #1)
  • The Apocalypse Guard (Apocalypse Guard, #1)
  • Fate of Flames (Effigies, #1)
  • Flashfall (Flashfall, #1)
  • The Secret Science of Magic
  • The Secret of a Heart Note
  • Vicarious (Vicarious, #1)
  • Pitch Dark
  • Fire and Heist
  • Unearthed (Unearthed, #1)
  • The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace, #2)
  • Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil
  • Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost, #1)
  • Lifel1k3 (Lifelike, #1)
  • Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies, #1)
Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine, where he made his mark on the UCI swim team, and wrote a successful humor column. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movi ...more

Other books in the series

Arc of a Scythe (3 books)
  • Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2)
  • The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)
“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.” 120 likes
“Hope in the shadow of fear is the world's most powerful motivator.” 82 likes
More quotes…