Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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In a dystopian future, the political groups we know today are dissolved. Life is something material, along with pain and emotion. Friends, happiness, and family are factors that are a product of your wealth. In recent decades, population control had to be integrated into society using the Scythedom, a group of individuals whose job was to permanently kill (or glean) people they didn’t believe to be a valuable part of society. Even the all-knowing being called the Thunderhead could not interfere with the duties of Scythes. Their control over the world made many tremble in fear. This book illustrates the many tales of encounters with Scythes. It displays the fear, frustration, and pain within the minds of the Scythes and their victims.

I found this book extremely fascinating to read. The very idea of our world being structured like this is something that just seems unfathomable. The author did an amazing job of immersing me in this unknown but possible universe. The strange but interesting concept was enough to keep me guessing and wondering what would happen next. This book also made me think about how unique life could be in a hundred or a thousand years from now. Oftentimes, it talks about how people neglected the existence of Scythes and ended up paying the price. I found that this kind of setup relates to the police and security of today. Overall this book is fantastic and I recommend the series that goes along with this and explains the world of Scythes in more depth.

One memorable concept of this book for me was the Thunderhead. As stated before, the Thunderhead was the all-powerful artificial intelligence that knew everything there is to know. I was most interested in the Thunderhead due to its limited abilities. Throughout the book, I wondered why the Thunderhead wasn’t allowed to punish or warn people about the Scythedom. Even though it was considered to be a “god” in some sense, it still couldn’t control the most unfair aspect of society, Scythes! Even so, the Thunderhead was still a wise figure for many in the book and was an important part of the plot.

Reviewed by Rhea M., Twin Hickory Area Library

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