Scythe by Neal Shusterman, A Summary

Scythe Book SummaryScythe Book Summary

By Neal Shusterman

Buy the book at

Summary of the book, “Scythe”

Set in a futuristic dystopia where science has made the unthinkable possible, “Scythe” presents not only a wonderful action story, but poses questions about the decisions we make when technology has surpassed our wildest dreams. In this world with no hunger, no disease and no natural death, a group of so called Scythes is in charge of keeping the population in check. High schoolers Citra and Rowan are chosen to be Scythe apprentices, a role that neither of them want to take. Through their journey of becoming apprentices, Citra and Rowan gain insight to a political culture – and potentially corruption – that they had known nothing about previously. Scythe forces us to ask big questions and consider the future that might truly be ahead of us.


Introduction to Characters:

Citra Terranova:

Citra is one of the apprentices chosen by Scythe Faraday. She is clever, and she takes the apprenticeship in order to ensure the protection of her family. Throughout the book, Citra’s characteristics drive her to want to make her world more fair and just.

Rowan Damisch:

Rowan is the other apprentice chosen by Scythe Faraday. Being more rebellious than Rowan he frequently defies the common practices of the Scythedom, and he elevates the story by bringing conflicts to the next level.

Scythe Faraday:

Scythe Faraday is a respected, fair Scythe that is looked up to throughout the entire Scythedom. Faraday is seen as a mentor to rowan and Citra, and he is known as one of the few remaining “good” scythes.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Do you think people are more scared of death in the Scythe world even though there is no way for them to die besides Scythe?
  2. What do you think about the Scythe’s naming themselves after scientists?
  3. How realistic is the Thunderhead? Would modern society be able to create a powerful computer that can eradicate death itself? Why or why not?
  4. Do Rowan and Citra actually like each other or do they just feel bound to each other through the circumstances of their situation?
  5. Consider the role of the Thunderhead. Do you think that it is possible for something to be so all knowing? Does or will such an entity ever exist?
  6. Think about the relationship between Citra and Rowan. How have their circumstances influenced the development of their relationship? How do you think it would have been different if they knew each other in a different setting?
  7. Think about the relationships between Citra and Curie and that of Rowan and Goddard. Can you see any underlying similarities in the relationships?
  8. Consider the government system the Scythes have put into effect. Where do we see the flaws in the system? If you had the power to make it less corrupt, how would you do so?


Other reviews and summaries of “Scythe”

  1. Goodreads: “Scythe” has an overall rating of 4.35 stars out of 5 on Goodreads, with over 400,000 reviews. You can find the reviews on this link:
  2. The New York Times: The New York Times reviewed “Scythe” in 2016 and praised its world-building and thought-provoking themes. You can read the review here:
  3. Kirkus Reviews: Kirkus Reviews gave “Scythe” a starred review and called it “a thought-provoking and compelling dystopian thriller.” You can read the review here:
  4. School Library Journal: School Library Journal gave “Scythe” a starred review and called it “a standout in the genre.” You can read the review here:
  5. NPR: NPR reviewed “Scythe” in 2016 and praised its unique concept and characters. You can read the review here:

Audience Reader Level:

Mature 7th/8th graders and high schoolers. Kids who liked Divergent, Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies.

Functional details about the book “Scythe” by Neal Shusterman:

  • ISBN: The ISBN for the hardcover edition of “Scythe” is 978-1442472426, while the paperback edition has the ISBN 978-1406379242.
  • Number of pages: The hardcover edition of “Scythe” has 448 pages, while the paperback edition has 512 pages.
  • Publisher name: “Scythe” was published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
  • First publish date: “Scythe” was first published on November 22, 2016.
  • Has it been made into a movie, TV or other streaming format? As of April 2023, there has been no official announcement regarding a movie, TV, or streaming adaptation of “Scythe.”
  • BISAC Categories: The BISAC categories for “Scythe” include Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian, and Death & Dying.


More about the author, Neal Shusterman

Scattered Summary by Penny and Abby