Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) is a unique addition to the YA dystopian genre, exploring what it would mean if no one could die and what we would have to do to keep the population under control.
Taking place in a world free of hunger, disease, and death, Scythe follows the characters of Citra and Rowan, two teenagers reluctant to apprentice to be a scythe - citizens tasked with the ability to gleam (kill) others in order to maintain a manageable population size.
The premise of this novel is a rather unique one. As technology has advanced, humanity has found a way to halt the aging process, granting all immortality. However, with no one dying from natural causes, ordinary people are transformed into scythes, who are bestowed the extraordinary ability of gleaming - the power to end someone's life, forever. While slow in certain areas, Shusterman follows through with this concept, even going so far as to present how people are chosen to be gleamed, what happens to the family left behind, and what happens when scythes abuse their power.
The story follows two characters, Citra and Rowan, as they are plucked from relative obscurity in order to apprentice for Scythe Faraday. Both characters offer unique perspectives to the narrative, with Citra doing anything she can to win the immunity for her family, and Rowan being a self-labeled piece of lettuce. While a romance between the two is briefly explored, it is not the main focus of the story. Instead, Shusterman favours the exploration of platonic relationships between the scythes and their apprentices, and the scythes and the general population. Out of all the characters, however, my favourite to read about was Scythe Curie. She is a former 'grande dame of death' who went from a cold-blooded angel to someone just trying to bestow wisdom of how to get through the job.