In the future, all disease has been cured. Old age isn't an indignity that anyone must suffer. With the wealth of information available to all humanity, most every problem has been solved. People live in peace, prosperity and good health. The Age of Mortality is past, and the future has never been more stable, balanced and bright.
There is only one issue that still plagues the world, and that is limited resources for an unlimited population. The solution of the new world was the Scythedom. An entity governed only by itself that would kill, or glean, a certain quota of the population each year. Their self-imposed rules stated they must not kill with malice or bias. Those they choose to kill must not resist. If they resist, their entire family is killed. If they do not resist, their family is granted a one year reprieve from being gleaned by any member of the Scythedom. No matter how hard humanity tries or how perfect it may seem at first, there will always be a measure of darkness in the world because there is darkness in humanity. So, of course, something goes wrong.
Two novice apprentices are chosen by a Scythe named Faraday who respects life and equality. He kills because he must, and because he hates it each time, he knows he is still human. Faraday begins teaching two apprentices his humane methods. When another Scythe challenges his methods, though, Faraday attempts to release his apprentices and save them from becoming pawns in a gruesome battle. A war is beginning to brew amongst the Scythes with one side valuing the old methods, temperance and kindness, and the other side desiring to see the Sythedom rule the world completely and the old rules revoked as too limiting.
Before any steps for safety can be taken, Faraday is murdered, and a long simmering plot begins that might destroy the safety net the world has been enjoying. Whether that safety was ever real or just an illusion is completely up for debate.
Neal Shusterman's "Scythe," is the first book in a trilogy that will open your thoughts to a new perspective. Once again, a dystopian future points out we can never really build a perfect future when we are all flawed in some way. "Scythe" is a fast-paced mystery and adventure that leaves you with plenty to consider even as you reach for the next book in the series.
Mariah Luebbering works in the teen and young adult services section at Missouri River Regional Library.