I’m rather conflicted about this book. All in all, it was a very good read, and I’m looking forward to read the sequel. The world-building is original and very well elaborated. The references are numerous and very well thought, I liked the clever and wise questionings about mortality, responsibility and ones life purpose.
My problems were with the premises: I struggled to accept that in a world as described by the author mandatory deaths should be left to some individuals’ choosing. And couldn’t accept at all the variety of methods used to achieve their purpose: it seemed clear that the lethal arsenal owned by the Scythes, and the necessity of training the young recrues in all manners of killing (« gleaning ») techniques, as would have assassin apprentices in a fantasy book, was a narrative choice and not a logical one.
But then, the story was good, interesting and polished, and I was happy to read on.
I had some more vexation on my way: the lack of atmosphere (in such a dystopical world I should have felt some « otherness », as in The Giver by Lois Lowry for instance, in this book the characters weren’t much different from us, even if the author takes care to insist on some points, as the weight of immortality), the lack of coherence sometimes (Goddard is such a psychopath, people should move to the other side of the world to escape his juridiction!) and the complete absurdity of fixing a squashed body in three days (I don’t want to be crass, but how to bring to life a brain mixed with hundreds of bone splinters? Hum? And how to fix the body matching the skull without any cloning solution?).
But I also had some satisfaction, with the science-fi context, a world without nationalities, clever lines of thoughts, and some very good introspection.
To conclude, that I could appreciate so much a book with such logical and scientific flaws is rather telling about its others qualities and addictiveness. « Scythe » is a must read if you are curious of the theme, even if you’re nurturing some doubts about its nature: all is cleverly done, the author never indulges in unhealthy and amoral excesses, the thinking is sane and thorough.