Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)

Content Overview

Overall Content



Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking


Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty


Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood


Potentially Intense Themes

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My Opinion

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) I’m left a bit reeling after reading this. It started out fascinating. All the elements of a true dystopia were there. They had conquered illness, hunger, war… everything. Little nanites were delivered if your system was ever out of wack or feeling pain or needed healing or whatever. In doing this, they were able to rid the world of death. To control population, people needed to randomly select those who were to die and the Scythes were the ones to do it. They were above the law.

With every good dystopia comes some flaw. For Scythe, someone takes too much enjoyment in the killing. They’re vicious and cruel. The first part of the book you get to learn the psychology of it all. It’s truly fascinating. The second half, you meet the cruel ones and the book takes a dark turn. The killings are intense and bloody where before they were somewhat respectful.

For the content, the language was mild. The intimacy was almost nonexistent. The violence was a lot. Some killings were “understandable” within the books terms. Others were downright gory. The book definitely had a darker feel during those chapters. It’s something I wouldn’t recommend to everyone. I was hoping it would gloss over the details more, and while the details weren’t as descriptive as they could be, there were so many killings that it was intense. A lot of parents wait to let their kids read books such as Hunger Games, I would definitely put this in that category, but on a larger level.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)

Neal Shusterman

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 of them wants. These teen must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

-Excerpt taken from book flap.

Check Goodreads to see the books ratings. 

Detailed Content Review



H***- 11


A**- 5


D***- 11

Bas****- 2

Religious Cursing-



G**- 4


Derogatory terms etc-

Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking

A young man is known for drinking. 

People have nanites in their blood that immediately release opiates for any pain.

A man puts champagne in a young man’s hand. 

A group toast with champagne. A young man drinks.  

A steady supply of opiates is pumped to a young woman’s body after an injury. 

Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty

A young man asks a young man to a dance. 

A woman wears a bikini that looks painted on. She takes a young man into a tent to give him a massage. 

A man slaps a young man’s glutes, “threatening all sorts of lewd liaisons.”

A man jumps in a pool and gets out with just his underwear on. 

Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood

A scythe is someone tasked with “population control” and in turn, is allowed to kill a certain amount of people per year however they want to.

A man takes a knife and slashes it back and forth making a family terrified he will kill them. He then took the knife to kill their neighbor.

A scythe chooses a teen boy for his gleaning (killing) and places a paddle over his chest, sending him a shock that stops his heart. 

A young woman slaps a young man. Then she pushes him against the wall.

If anyone attacks a scythe or fights the gleaning, their entire family is killed. 

Troublesome people are often treated with shock nanites in their blood. They are people that break the law in minor ways. 

A teen grabs the scythes immunity ring and grants himself immunity for a year. The scythe tells him he will see him the day after that to kill him. It’s just a threat. 

The scythe hands a woman a pill to bite. It immediately kills her. 

An entire plane is chosen to be gleaned. One tries to jump out but the scythe threatens the lives of his family. A flight attendant and her family will be killed. A man jumps out. His family will be killed also. Three scythes have multiple weapons and seem happy to brutally kill. One pulls out a knife and a man plunges himself on it so he kills himself instead. 

Two apprentices have to learn the skill in killing multiple different ways; knives, mace, blunt force, guns, poisons, weaponless etc.

A scythe goes to glean a man and challenges him to a duel. The man severs his neck once, his femoral another time. Then the scythe pierces his heart. 

As discipline, a scythe is put to death and revived 12 times. Another two are killed seven separate times.

A scythe comes in with bloodied robes. 

The apprentices and scythe drown a man for his gleaning. 

4 scythes show up with weapons and a flamethrower. One man lays dead, the area is on fire, 2 are taken down with arrows. 

A man fights the scythe at his gleaning, breaking the scythes jaw. A young woman jumps on him and the scythe slices his throat. He tries to stop the flow of blood, gasping. He collapses, blood continuing to come. 

Scythes show up at a door. They gleaned the security guards already. 

A man holds a knife to a man’s neck. Another man touches another man’s cheek with poison on his fingers. The man drops instantly and dies.

A woman takes a blade and shoves it into a man’s rib cage, into his heart. 

A young child pushed another child in front of a speeding car. She died but was fixed with technology. 

If a person impersonates a scythe, they are to be gleaned publicly and violently. 

A man punches a young man. Then a group of people took turns doing the same. 

For a training session, a young man is forced to use real people. He is supposed to kill them quickly using their hearts and jugulars. He does it. He is swift and covered in blood. He has to do this many times. They are revived and paid.

A group heads out to glean. A young man realizes they will kill around 250 people. They light fire to the building and kill all in their way. It’s gruesome and intense. One wishes every day they could do it.

A young man breaks a young woman’s neck (knowing she will be healed). He looks at her body with the head twisted backward and eyes open. 

A man holds a knife to a young girls neck as a threat to get a man to do what he wants.

Two men take a young woman. She kicks one but is jolted with a jolt baton. She fights off more, kicking and elbowing and then jumps from a great height. 

A woman is left unconscious when a jolt baton is used on her. A woman uses a large pistol to blow up 2 cars. 

A man holds a knife to a young woman’s throat. 

A young woman shoots a man’s leg and his blood covers the ground. He then smacks his head on the ground and is unconscious. 

A group of people viciously kill at a festival. They light a field on fire to smoke people out then kill them. 

A group gleans a commune of people with samurai swords. Sounds of anguish were intense. A man is covered in blood. He gleaned a classroom of a dozen kids. *** SPOILER*** The man then slit his wrists. Blood spills onto the ground. 

A man throws a man against the wall knocking him unconscious. A young man slides his blade into a man, killing him. Then he slices off his head and it bounces into a basin. Then he turned the sword on a woman, and kicked her, breaking her spine. A man sets him on fire with a flamethrower but he puts it out and beats him to death.  

A young woman thrusts a knife into a young boy’s throat. 

A young woman punches a young man. 

A young man takes knives and slashes his way out of a room. Some receive wounds, one is killed. 

Rumor says a man is searching out scythes and killing them with fire. 

Potentially Intense Themes

Two teens are trained in the art of killing. 

A young man “hurled himself out a thirty-nine-story window, leaving a terrible mess…” he does this to see how long it takes him to “speedheal” and you get his parents’ attention. 

A man develops a digital poison that turn people’s healing nanites into something that kills them. 

A man debates suicide. 

A man is said to have thrown himself in front of a train. 

A cult sometimes blinds themselves. 

A leader tells two teens that one will have to kill the other. 

A scythe teaches an apprentice how to enjoy the killings and how to make them more viscous. 

A young woman is arrested for murder. 

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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