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Dystopian book of a thrilling new series written by Neal Shusterman

Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

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.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

Book Review

A well-woven thriller set in a post-singularity, immortal future - where overpopulation is prevented by human culling

Scythe doesn't just address (the very unusual approach to) overpopulation caused by biological immortality, it also addresses a few of the concerns about radical life extension, such as boredom and the meaning of life. It notes that the longer we live, the quicker the days seem to pass, so for people able to live forever the decades fly by with no milestones to mark them.

The book also hints that most people don't spend their extended time becoming skilled at every art and science, but get drawn into slavish routine.

And what do academics do when the society controlling AI is a superintelligence? They study what we (it) already know.

Although the story takes place a few hundred years in the future, Shusterman has used a predicted date of 2042 for the singularity where "computational power became infinite – or so close to infinite that it could no longer be measured." After that point, the Thunderhead managed the world and everybody in it - efficiently and without human arrogance or self-interest.

2042 is also the year that conquered death, with the time before that referred to as the Age of Mortality, as people are now biologically immortal. Accidents (or attacks) could still happen, but ambudrones arrive within minutes to take the wounded to a revival centre for speed-healing.

Practical implications of being able to rejuvenate (or "reset") yourself are raised in passing, with one of the lead characters coming from a family with so many siblings that he is barely an individual in his own house. And how, depending on when one resets, means they can appear much younger than their children. Though it has been decided that people could only reset to twenty-one rather than all the way back to childhood.

Generally a good read, with a well-woven story making it a thriller set in an immortal future, rather than just being focussed on the scientific and ethical questions that arise.

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See also: Author Neal Shusterman - Award-winning and New York Times best selling author of over 30 books