Scythe by Neal ShustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe

byNeal Shusterman

Hardcover | November 22, 2016

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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.
Neal Shusterman was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 12, 1962. He received degrees in psychology and drama from the University of California, Irvine. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal and a screenwriting job. He has written numerous books including The Dark Side of Nowhere, Red Rider's Hood, The Shadow Club,...
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Title:ScytheFormat:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.5 inPublished:November 22, 2016Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442472421

ISBN - 13:9781442472426

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing After Hunger Game this was another book that I couldn't put down and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is not just a book that's entertaining, it also shows humanity and our desire and what ifs... It's engaging and it makes you think and wonder... I can't wait for the next one.
Date published: 2017-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Almost perfect! Holy hell, this book was freaking fantastic! I will admit that the first few chapters were a little slow and I kept thinking “is anything actually going to happen?” I am so glad I pushed through that because this is one of my favourite reads of the year so far. Rowan and Citra were both really likeable and interesting characters on their own but their relationship and kind of romance was also really interesting to root for. They’re never given an opportunity for that relationship to become anything and that’s why I found it such a refreshing situation. The ending when Scythe Anastasia punches Rowan and then they say “I love you” made me gasp and smile saying “why is that my #relationshipgoals?!” There’s a bit of violence here but the I feel like the words and dialogue were so much more impactful. when Citra explained her reasoning for choosing the name Anastasia (which my inner Russian history nerd adored) I wanted to stand up and start a slow clap. The ending journal entry by her also made my heart freeze for a second. I am forever now going to tell people to “Go glean yourself.” I couldn’t help but laugh and love the use of the conferences/big meetings as time markers since this is literally how I function in my professional life. My jaw dropped and I wanted to again start a slow clap when the last conference made a massive blatently obvious comment and reference to pro-gun advocates and their arguments. I feel like I’m a reader who picks up on breadcrumbs and tend to figure out “shocking twists” like five chapters before they happen. All three of the ties/getting around the “You must glean the loser” totally shocked me! The end with Citra/Anastasia punching Rowan made me gasp and it was freaking brilliant! Lastly, I like to think of myself as a good person but I’m also someone who can hold a grudge and be petty so I feel like I could have taken on the duties of a Scythe–and I wouldn’t have used it to burn down a religious institution like some douche bag in this book–but I don’t know that I’m honest enough to be unbiased
Date published: 2017-10-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from meh thought-provoking at times, but the writing style wasn't really to my taste. Also the mc's were kinda bland
Date published: 2017-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Finally an original dystopian novel! The entire concept of the Scythes felt believable and realistic, especially when a world like this being reality feels near impossible. Parts of this book felt slow and dragged a bit but I think it lended to the amazing world building. I do think that portions of this book could have been left out and it would have still been an enjoyable and less boring in some parts. The characters got better and better throughout the book, and I really felt for their struggles with their humanity and whats right and whats wrong in this universe. Scythe is certainly a one of a kind book, and if you're looking to read a unique dystopian then here you go!
Date published: 2017-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! Finished this book and now can't wait for the second one! What a twist!
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Very Detached Read Though the premise seemed promising and the plot, especially in the latter half, was rather entertaining, the writing style itself was extremely detached and it was difficult to even care about what was happening to the main characters. This, in part, came from the fact that a lot of events happened "off-screen" and were merely summarised on the page. The basis of the utopian society itself also seemed rather flimsy and ridden with holes. Overall not a very remarkable read.
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic book! I found the entire concept of the book really refreshing. The author developed an amazing Utopian world that I had a hard time comprehending simply because it was so well done. It is a world where there are people whose jobs are to kill other people and that's normal. His spin on this world was awesome and being able to slowly dive deeper into this Utopia was fascinating. The characters were well developed and I loved them. I never knew where the book was going, I was always kept on my toes. It is a wonderful, suspenseful and a thought provoking book. I couldn't put it down. I loved it and I cannot wait for the next book.
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I love books by Neal Shusterman and this one was no exception. Such an interesting concept a dystopian world where humanity has practically obtained immortality. It's a quick read at an easy going pace.
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Definitely worth a read Scythe takes place in an interesting, utopian world where humans have abolished death, so they need to mete it out themselves to avoid overpopulation. Unlike everything else, which they let the cloud-based AI Thundercloud handle, they think it's best left in the hands of humans. And one day, Citra and Rowan--two humans who have stood by during a Gleaning--are summoned to become a Scythe's apprentices. If that premise interests you, you need to read this book. The worldbuilding is great and it'll keep you engaged the whole way through.
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING!!! Excellent, so, so excellent, there are enough stars for all the excellence. Right from the get-go, readers are immersed in a spectacular, unique world with fantastic and memorable characters and a compelling story that was as unexpected as it was exciting. I was completely hooked, and I'm dying for the next book. The world is unlike any I've ever read before, with the rules and politics engaging and things I wanted to learn about. The characters are fantastic. Citra is a headstrong, powerful young woman who I absolutely loved. Rowan is equally as interesting. My heart broke during his story, and I have to say that while I was always supporting him, he spooked me! The ending was nail-biting right until the very last page, and I can only imagine where it's going to go from here. Like I said, I couldn't get enough of it. Such an engaging, remarkable story about trials and choices and endurance. If you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to do so as soon as possible––you'll love it!
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read *****I read an ARC copy of this novel****** I have never read a novel by Neal Shusterman, although many students and my own son have really enjoyed the Unwind dystology. From the first sentence this book had my attention. It is set in the near future (2042) where the Thunderhead has taken over and eliminated death, accidents, disease and crime. Indeed, the reader wonders if this is a utopia or a dystopia. Human population is controlled by Scythes who are honoured and respected members of society who are tasked with keeping the population in control by "gleaning" (AKA killing). Teens Citra and Rowan are both apprentices to a scythe to learn the trade of gleaning. However, at a scythe meeting it is decided that the unconventional allowing of two apprentices will be addressed by only one becoming a full scythe and the "winner" needs to glean the losing apprentice. Thus the apprenticeship and budding camaraderie between Citra and Rowan becomes a fight to the death. In the midst of this, a scythe is gleaned and the age old issues of human greed, envy, morality and mortality are brought to a fast paced and action filled climax. Highly recommended for both teen and adult readers. Warning: this is the first book in a planned series
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Absolutely Stunning * I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion.* Scythe almost flew under my radar. I've never read anything by Neal Shusterman before and hadn't heard about this one until all of a sudden those closest to me kept talking about it. Then I went to the Simon & Schuster Canada preview and they built up even more hype for this title for me. I'm always scared going into titles with that much excitement but let me tell you...it blew my expectations OUT OF THE WATER! There are so many incredibly powerful questions raised through the plot of Scythe and what I love is that nothing is easily resolved or quick-fixed. It looks at morality, human nature, power, corruption, and the actual feasibility of a Utopian society. We are complex creatures and even when we think we have it all figured out, we probably (usually) haven't figured out as much as we think. Scythe doesn't give you any answers to the burning questions and conundrums of humanity but it definitely makes you think. I was also super invested in the plot and the well-being of all (okay almost all) the characters. For me, if I'm not sucked into the story within the first couple of chapters then you've lost me. I was in from the very start, there was no question. The premise is so interesting and the characters are very compelling. I adore Citra, Rowan, and Scythe Faraday and on the other end of the spectrum straight up despise Scythe Goddard and his flashy posse; I love when characters make me feel so intensely. I not only highly recommend this book but would likely do some questionable things to get my hands on book 2 right this second. It's honestly so good and intense. Just read it, okay?
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A unique look at a very possible not-too-distant future! Everyone in the bookish community has always highly praised the work of Neal Shusterman. I finally had the chance to pick up my first Shusterman book earlier this year when I read Bruiser. It blew my mind so hard that I knew I needed to continue on and read as many more Neal Shusterman books as possible. When I was asked by Simon and Schuster Canada if I would like to read and review his newest novel Scythe, I of course enthusiastically said yes! What I Liked The concept. The concept behind Scythe was absolutely fantastic. It was a really unique read in a world wear dystopian novels have all started to feel the same. It was so creative and unlike anything I have ever read before. The idea of a futuristic world in which death is a thing of the past and the only solve to overpopulation is to be killed (gleaned) by a Scythe. The Scythes are here to make sure that the natural order of the world still happens by making sure they glean the right amount of people each year to meet their quota. That concept alone is unique in itself. Then we bring in these two young teens, both chosen as apprentices to become scythes. While at first they were both chosen, a chain of events causes the two to be forced to fight against one another, as now only one of them can become a scythe…that has to glean the loser. On top of all that, we have the Thunderhead, which was once the Cloud (yes, the same cloud that exists in our world today) only it has now become a sentient being that basically governs the world. The only thing it can’t touch or control is the Scythedom. I mean…how interesting does all of that sound?! So unique, so brilliant. The characters. Citra and Rowan were both fantastic main characters. I loved their friendship and the complications that later effected it. I loved that they both had different personalities, while also having a similar outlook that attracted Scythe Faraday to initiate both of them as scythe apprentices. Scythe Faraday became one of my favourite characters within this novel. He was honourable and thoughtful and had qualities that made him stand out as a fantastic scythe. In other news, Scythe Goddard was just an awful person. I completely despised him which I think was exactly what Shusterman wanted from readers. Is it weird that I kept picturing Scythe Goddard as Matt Bomer? These characters are fantastic and I absolutely loved them all. The question of right & wrong. This novel definitely touches on the idea of making good decisions. Choosing between right and wrong. Following the rules or taking advantage of the privilege that you have been given. Nature versus nurture. This has always been an intriguing concept for me. How two different people make decisions based on the way they were raised…or in this case, based on the way that they were trained. It felt real? Yes, this book took place in the future…but it doesn’t feel that far fetched at all. I can definitely see something like “The Cloud” becoming a sentient being. I can see human eventually achieving something like a longer lifespan. I can see how this might cause overpopulation issues which would bring forth the ides of “scythes” that would need to strategically fix this issue. While this story does feel futuristic, it seems quite possible. -- What I Didn’t Like I literally loved everything about this book. Can I get book 2 now please? -- Scythe definitely did not disappoint and I am 100% on my way to becoming a huge Neal Shusterman fan. I have already acquired two more of his novels and I absolutely cannot wait to dive right in. READ THIS BOOK.
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A dystopian world without death needs the Scythes to control population 2042 is a world that has beaten disease, death and war, and Scythes are the only ones who are sanctioned to kill to control the population. They have their own rules and govern themselves. When Rowan and Citra are chosen to be apprenticed they struggle to hold on to their humanity and their own mortality. An intriguing and thought provoking read for ages 12 and up who are fans of dystopia.
Date published: 2016-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Scythes must uphold the task of maintaining population control in a world where death is otherwise avoidable. People pay to "turn the corner" and go back to whatever age they would like as many times as they want as disease, poverty, and ageing have been eliminated. Every element of life is controlled by the Thunderhead - a conscious, decisive, all-seeing being that originated from the "cloud" that we currently store data, photos, and music in now. Those who become Scythes have both the power to kill and the power to grant immunity - meaning they have great responsibility. With that amount of power, it is easy to see how corruption can lead Scythes to become unrestrained killers and ignore the sacred vows they swore to upkeep. When two children are chosen to apprentice as Scythes, we soon realize how complex being a Scythe is and how power dramatically changes a person. This was a phenomenal read, it would be engaging and exciting for both teens and adults alike. Similar teen titles would be Metaltown by Kristen Simmons.
Date published: 2016-08-28

Read from the Book

Scythe 1 No Dimming of the Sun The scythe arrived late on a cold November afternoon. Citra was at the dining room table, slaving over a particularly difficult algebra problem, shuffling variables, unable to solve for X or Y, when this new and far more pernicious variable entered her life’s equation. Guests were frequent at the Terranovas’ apartment, so when the doorbell rang, there was no sense of foreboding—no dimming of the sun, no foreshadowing of the arrival of death at their door. Perhaps the universe should have deigned to provide such warnings, but scythes were no more supernatural than tax collectors in the grand scheme of things. They showed up, did their unpleasant business, and were gone. Her mother answered the door. Citra didn’t see the visitor, as he was, at first, hidden from her view by the door when it opened. What she saw was how her mother stood there, suddenly immobile, as if her veins had solidified within her. As if, were she tipped over, she would fall to the floor and shatter. “May I enter, Mrs. Terranova?” The visitor’s tone of voice gave him away. Resonant and inevitable, like the dull toll of an iron bell, confident in the ability of its peal to reach all those who needed reaching. Citra knew before she even saw him that it was a scythe. My god! A scythe has come to our home! “Yes, yes of course, come in.” Citra’s mother stepped aside to allow him entry—as if she were the visitor and not the other way around. He stepped over the threshold, his soft slipper-like shoes making no sound on the parquet floor. His multilayered robe was smooth ivory linen, and although it reached so low as to dust the floor, there was not a spot of dirt on it anywhere. A scythe, Citra knew, could choose the color of his or her robe—every color except for black, for it was considered inappropriate for their job. Black was an absence of light, and scythes were the opposite. Luminous and enlightened, they were acknowledged as the very best of humanity—which is why they were chosen for the job. Some scythe robes were bright, some more muted. They looked like the rich, flowing robes of Renaissance angels, both heavy yet lighter than air. The unique style of scythes’ robes, regardless of the fabric and color, made them easy to spot in public, which made them easy to avoid—if avoidance was what a person wanted. Just as many were drawn to them. The color of the robe often said a lot about a scythe’s personality. This scythe’s ivory robe was pleasant, and far enough from true white not to assault the eye with its brightness. But none of this changed the fact of who and what he was. He pulled off his hood to reveal neatly cut gray hair, a mournful face red-cheeked from the chilly day, and dark eyes that seemed themselves almost to be weapons. Citra stood. Not out of respect, but out of fear. Shock. She tried not to hyperventilate. She tried not to let her knees buckle beneath her. They were betraying her by wobbling, so she forced fortitude to her legs, tightening her muscles. Whatever the scythe’s purpose here, he would not see her crumble. “You may close the door,” he said to Citra’s mother, who did so, although Citra could see how difficult it was for her. A scythe in the foyer could still turn around if the door was open. The moment that door was closed, he was truly, truly inside one’s home. He looked around, spotting Citra immediately. He offered a smile. “Hello, Citra,” he said. The fact that he knew her name froze her just as solidly as his appearance had frozen her mother. “Don’t be rude,” her mother said, too quickly. “Say hello to our guest.” “Good day, Your Honor.” “Hi,” said her younger brother, Ben, who had just come to his bedroom door, having heard the deep peal of the scythe’s voice. Ben was barely able to squeak out the one-word greeting. He looked to Citra and to their mother, thinking the same thing they were all thinking. Who has he come for? Will it be me? Or will I be left to suffer the loss? “I smelled something inviting in the hallway,” the scythe said, breathing in the aroma. “Now I see I was right in thinking it came from this apartment.” “Just baked ziti, Your Honor. Nothing special.” Until this moment, Citra had never known her mother to be so timid. “That’s good,” said the scythe, “because I require nothing special.”  Then he sat on the sofa and waited patiently for dinner. Was it too much to believe that the man was here for a meal and nothing more? After all, scythes had to eat somewhere. Customarily, restaurants never charged them for food, but that didn’t mean a home-cooked meal was not more desirable. There were rumors of scythes who required their victims to prepare them a meal before being gleaned. Is that what was happening here? Whatever his intentions, he kept them to himself, and they had no choice but to give him whatever he wanted. Will he spare a life here today if the food is to his taste, Citra wondered? No surprise that people bent over backwards to please scythes in every possible way. Hope in the shadow of fear is the world’s most powerful motivator. Citra’s mother brought him something to drink at his request, and now labored to make sure tonight’s dinner was the finest she had ever served. Cooking was not her specialty. Usually she would return home from work just in time to throw something quick together for them. Tonight their lives might just rest on her questionable culinary skills. And their father? Would he be home in time, or would a gleaning in his family take place in his absence? As terrified as Citra was, she did not want to leave the scythe alone with his own thoughts, so she went into the living room with him. Ben, who was clearly as fascinated as he was fearful, sat with her. The man finally introduced himself as Honorable Scythe Faraday. “I . . . uh . . . did a report on Faraday for school once,” Ben said, his voice cracking only once. “You picked a pretty cool scientist to name yourself after.” Scythe Faraday smiled. “I like to think I chose an appropriate Patron Historic. Like many scientists, Michael Faraday was underappreciated in his life, yet our world would not be what it is without him.” “I think I have you in my scythe card collection,” Ben went on. “I have almost all the MidMerican scythes—but you were younger in the picture.” The man seemed perhaps sixty, and although his hair had gone gray, his goatee was still salt-and-pepper. It was rare for a person to let themselves reach such an age before resetting back to a more youthful self. Citra wondered how old he truly was. How long had he been charged with ending lives? “Do you look your true age, or are you at the far end of time by choice?” Citra asked. “Citra!” Her mother nearly dropped the casserole she had just taken out of the oven. “What a question to ask!” “I like direct questions,” the scythe said. “They show an honesty of spirit, so I will give an honest answer. I admit to having turned the corner four times. My natural age is somewhere near one hundred eighty, although I forget the exact number. Of late I’ve chosen this venerable appearance because I find that those I glean take more comfort from it.” Then he laughed. “They think me wise.” “Is that why you’re here?” Ben blurted “To glean one of us?” Scythe Faraday offered an unreadable smile. “I’m here for dinner.”   •  •  •   Citra’s father arrived just as dinner was about to be served. Her mom had apparently informed him of the situation, so he was much more emotionally prepared than the rest of them had been. As soon as he entered, he went straight over to Scythe Faraday to shake his hand, and pretended to be far more jovial and inviting than he truly must have been. The meal was awkward—mostly silence punctuated by the occasional comment by the scythe. “You have a lovely home.” “What flavorful lemonade!” “This may be the best baked ziti in all of MidMerica!” Even though everything he said was complimentary, his voice registered like a seismic shock down everyone’s spine. “I haven’t seen you in the neighborhood,” Citra’s father finally said. “I don’t suppose you would have,” he answered. “I am not the public figure that some other scythes choose to be. Some scythes prefer the spotlight, but to truly do the job right, it requires a level of anonymity.” “Right?” Citra bristled at the very idea. “There’s a right way to glean?” “Well,” he answered, “there are certainly wrong ways,” and said nothing more about it. He just ate his ziti. As the meal neared its close, he said, “Tell me about yourselves.” It wasn’t a question or a request. It could only be read as a demand. Citra wasn’t sure whether this was part of his little dance of death, or if he was genuinely interested. He knew their names before he entered the apartment, so he probably already knew all the things they could tell him. Then why ask? “I work in historical research,” her father said. “I’m a food synthesis engineer,” said her mother. The scythe raised his eyebrows. “And yet you cooked this from scratch.” She put down her fork. “All from synthesized ingredients.” “Yes, but if we can synthesize anything,” he offered, “why do we still need food synthesis engineers?” Citra could practically see the blood drain from her mother’s face. It was her father who rose to defend his wife’s existence. “There’s always room for improvement.” “Yeah—and Dad’s work is important, too!” Ben said. “What, historical research?” The scythe waved his fork dismissing the notion. “The past never changes—and from what I can see, neither does the future.” While her parents and brother were perplexed and troubled by his comments, Citra understood the point he was making. The growth of civilization was complete. Everyone knew it. When it came to the human race, there was no more left to learn. Nothing about our own existence to decipher. Which meant that no one person was more important than any other. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, everyone was equally useless. That’s what he was saying, and it infuriated Citra, because on a certain level, she knew he was right. Citra was well known for her temper. It often arrived before reason, and left only after the damage was done. Tonight would be no exception. “Why are you doing this? If you’re here to glean one of us, just get it over with and stop torturing us!” Her mother gasped, and her father pushed back his chair as if ready to get up and physically remove her from the room. “Citra, what are you doing!” Now her mother’s voice was quivering. “Show respect!” “No! He’s here, he’s going to do it, so let him do it. It’s not like he hasn’t decided; I’ve heard that scythes always make up their mind before they enter a home, isn’t that right?” The scythe was unperturbed by her outburst. “Some do, some don’t,” he said gently. “We each have our own way of doing things.” By now Ben was crying. Dad put his arm around him, but the boy was inconsolable. “Yes, scythes must glean,” Faraday said, “but we also must eat, and sleep, and have simple conversation.” Citra grabbed his empty plate away from him. “Well, the meal’s done, so you can leave.” Then her father approached him. He fell to his knees. Her father was actually on his knees to this man! “Please,  Your Honor, forgive her. I take full responsibility for her behavior.” The scythe stood. “An apology isn’t necessary. It’s refreshing to be challenged. You have no idea how tedious it gets; the pandering, the obsequious flattery, the endless parade of sycophants. A slap in the face is bracing. It reminds me that I’m human.” Then he went to the kitchen and grabbed the largest, sharpest knife he could find. He swished it back and forth, getting a feel for how it cut through the air. Ben’s wails grew, and his father’s grip tightened on him. The scythe approached their mother. Citra was ready to hurl herself in front of her to block the blade, but instead of swinging the knife, the man held out his other hand. “Kiss my ring.” No one was expecting this, least of all Citra. Citra’s mother stared at him, shaking her head, not willing to believe. “You’re . . . you’re granting me immunity?” “For your kindness and the meal you served, I grant you one year immunity from gleaning. No scythe may touch you.” But she hesitated. “Grant it to my children instead.” Still the scythe held out his ring to her. It was a diamond the size of his knuckle with a dark core. It was the same ring all scythes wore. “I am offering it to you, not them.” “But—” “Jenny, just do it!” insisted their father. And so she did. She knelt, kissed his ring, her DNA was read and was transmitted to the Scythedom’s immunity database. In an instant the world knew that Jenny Terranova was safe from gleaning for the next twelve months. The scythe looked to his ring, which now glowed faintly red, indicating that the person before him had immunity from gleaning. He grinned, satisfied. And finally he told them the truth. “I’m here to glean your neighbor, Bridget Chadwell,” Scythe Faraday informed them. “But she was not yet home. And I was hungry.” He gently touched Ben on the head, as if delivering some sort of benediction. It seemed to calm him. Then the scythe moved to the door, the knife still in his hand, leaving no question as to the method of their neighbor’s gleaning. But before he left, he turned to Citra. “You see through the facades of the world, Citra Terranova. You’d make a good scythe.” Citra recoiled. “I’d never want to be one.” “That,” he said, “is the first requirement.” Then he left to kill their neighbor.   •  •  •   They didn’t speak of it that night. No one spoke of gleanings—as if speaking about it might bring it upon them. There were no sounds from next door. No screams, no pleading wails—or perhaps the Terranovas’ TV was turned up too loud to hear it. That was the first thing Citra’s father did once the scythe left—turn on the TV and blast it to drown out the gleaning on the other side of the wall. But it was unnecessary, because however the scythe accomplished his task, it was done quietly. Citra found herself straining to hear something—anything. Both she and Ben discovered in themselves a morbid curiosity that made them both secretly ashamed. An hour later, Honorable Scythe Faraday returned. It was Citra who opened the door. His ivory robe held not a single splatter of blood. Perhaps he had a spare one. Perhaps he had used the neighbor’s washing machine after her gleaning. The knife was clean, too, and he handed it to Citra. “We don’t want it,” Citra told him, feeling pretty sure she could speak for her parents on the matter. “We’ll never use it again.” “But you must use it,” he insisted, “so that it might remind you.” “Remind us of what?” “That a scythe is merely the instrument of death, but it is your hand that swings me. You and your parents, and everyone else in this world are the wielders of scythes.” Then he gently put the knife in her hands. “We are all accomplices. You must share the responsibility.” That may have been true, but after he was gone Citra still dropped the knife into the trash.