Review: Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman

Today I am here with a special blog post. For the first time ever I’m going to review an entire series in one blogpost. Nevertheless, you don’t have to worry about any spoilers because I will keep this entire blogpost spoiler free, so you can read it whether or not you’ve read the series, or are in the middle of the trilogy.


This is the premise for the first book Scythe, I won’t give the premises for the second and third book because of spoilers.

Thou shalt kill.

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. 

My review – spoiler free!

That premise gives me chills, every single time. I was in love with the concept of this book since the first time I heard it, which must’ve been at least 2 years ago now. I don’t know why it took me such a long time to read these books, but in some way I’m happy I waited because that meant I could bingeread this series. And let me tell you I barely bingeread series, because I usually need breaks from chracters and worlds. With this series I didn’t feel like I needed a break at all. The first two books ended in a way that made me wanted to immediately pick up the next one.

What did I love about this trilogy?

I loved the characters! Citra, Rowan, Faraday and Curie were all characters with an individual set of characteristics. They all had their goals and dreams and their own way of talking. Over the course of the three books I never lost my interest in these characters, whenever one of their chapters came up I was always excited to read it.

In Thunderhead, the second book, we get introduced to some new main characters. At first I really missed our four original main characters, they still had their chapters but especially at the beginning of the book the new main character Greyson got a lot of chapters. At first I wasn’t really interested in Greyson’s perspective, the only thing I liked about his chapters was his communication with the Thunderhead, the AI in this world. I also thought that characteristic wise he wasn’t that remarkable, and I even confused him with Rowan from time to time. I sometimes thought I was reading a Rowan chapther when I was reading one of Greyson’s chapters and vice versa. Nevertheless, once Greyson developed his own character I started to really like his perspective as well, especially in the third book, The Toll, I loved Greyson’s chapters just as much as I loved the other main characters’ chapters.

And then in The Toll we got introduced to another one of my favourite characters, Jerico. I absolutely loved Jeri! I especially loved that Jeri was gender fluid. Even though I read quite a lot of LGBTQ+ books, I had never read a book with a gender fluid character before. Next to that Jeri was also just a cute little bean I wanted to hug for the rest of my life. I loved how this character brought up the discussion around gender identity and sexual identity in this world, because this book takes place 150-200 years from now so it’s lovely to see how Shusterman still made sure there was talk of LGBTQ+ in this world.

Next to that I also just loved that basically everyone in this book is mixed race. This world evolved in a way that everyone has every race in them. But Shusterman then sometimes hinted that this character had a bit more of this race in them and another character had a bit more of another race in them. Nevertheless, each region in the world still had its own culture.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the names Shusterman gave to the regions and the races. You still knew where the characters were, even though the region had a different name than it has now. But the names were very similar, for example America was called Merica and Great Britain was called Britannia. The races had a similar thing going on; for example you had Panasian and Afric.

For me my favourite part of this trilogy was, without a doubt, the politics. The first book is not that political, you just get a couple of hints towards the political state of the world, but the second and third book are mainly focused on the politics of this futuristic world. I’m someone who loves politics so this was like heaven for me. It was also amazing to see politics intertwined with religion in the third book. I’m not going to dive into what I loved about the politics and religion because of spoilers, but it was just *chef’s kiss*.

My second favourite thing about this trilogy was the Thunderhead. In the first book our AI doesn’t really have that big of a role, but in the second book he has a really big role. I guess, you could’ve guessed that since the second book is named after it. I’ve only read one other series with AI in it, because I don’t really read sci-fi and AI is an element of sci-fi books. That other series was the Illuminae Files, and unfortunately I wasn’t that big of a fan of that series. The expectations I had for the AI in Illuminae were not met by AIDEN, but in some way they were met by the Thunderhead.

I only have some small things I want to say about the writing style (and this review is already quite long) so I’ll keep those short: I love how some current pop culture references were made even though the book takes place 200 years in the future. I also loved how freaking funny this series is. Even though this book deals with topics like death and politics, it still had snarky comments that made me laugh out loud so many times.

And then the last small thing that I loved was that the scythes had to pick a new name or a scythe name and that that had to be the name of a historical figure. So we had Marie Curie, Jim Morrison and many many more names you already recognised.

What did I not love about this trilogy?

Even though I gave all three of the books 5 out of 5 stars and I consider the Arc of a Scythe trilogy my favourite series of all time now, there are still two small things that I didn’t love or like about the books.

The first thing that bugged me was only with Thunderhead and The Toll, the second and third book, and that was that the beginning or the first 100-150 pages were quite slow. You had to wait for the action but once you passed those first 100-150 pages there was a lot of action.

The second thing I didn’t like was the romance element. There was a romance between two of the main characters (there were multiple, but for the people who have read this series I’m talking about the one that is present in all three of the books) and I just didn’t believe it. It felt so sudden to me and there was no chemistry between those characters at all. For me they were just two good friends, who would still die for each other, but the romance was unnecessary.

And my last small remark is that this book could’ve used a warning for suicide and how some people commit suicide for fun (because they will be revived).

Another thing I didn’t like was purely due to the speed I read this series in was that at the beginning of each book and throughout the books themselves, it recaped what had already happened in the previous books or in that book. But I guess that is a handy thing if you don’t read the books in a couple of days or if you don’t read them back to back. So I think I would’ve loved that, if I hadn’t read the books and the series so quickly.

Which book was my favourite out of the trilogy?

Thunderhead was my favourite book, the Toll my second favourite book and Scythe comes at number three. But that is purely because of the presence of the politics in the second and third book.

So I think we can conclude you have to go read this trilogy like right now.

4 gedachten over “Review: Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman”

  1. […] This one is without a doubt Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman for me! I bingeread the entire Arc of a Scythe series in April of this year and fell completely in love with it. And Thunderhead is my favourite book out of the trilogy. I also made a blog post with a series review for this book, you can find that one here. […]


  2. […] I consider this trilogy to be my favourite (completed) series of all time now, so of course it deserves a (high) spot on this list! This is one of the only series I’ve ever bingeread, so I guess that also just says something. I’ve actually written an entire review for this trilogy earlier this year, so in case you’re interested, you can find that review here. […]


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