By Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman always seems to write some of the darkest dystopian novels. Worlds that are seemingly impossible but yet some how possible all at the same time. He takes real issues that we face in our world and imagines what life would be like if those issues were taken to the extreme. I always find his books thought provoking and a little horrifying at the same time. This one is no different.

In this dystopian world man has learned everything he can and now it is all in the cloud (now referred to as the Thunderhead) for everyones benefit. Thanks to this knowledge humans have become immortal. Death is no longer something to fear because there is nothing they can't fix. But with this gift of immortality comes the problem of an ever growing population in a limited world. In an attempt to have some control over a population, they have formed a group of Scythes whose job is to glean a certain percentage of the population. The Thunderhead controls all aspects of their lives, except the Scythes, which remain the one thing controlled only by humans. Two teenagers find themselves apprenticed to one of these scythes and learn just what it means to have that job. But in the Scythe world not everyone agrees with how things are run and they soon find themselves caught in the politics and intrigue of the Scythedom.

I thought this concept was interesting and gave a different perspective about what the consequences would be if humans figured out how to beat death. It is strange that murder no longer exist yet there is a group of people whose job is to go around killing people. They don't call it murder, they call it gleaning but to me it still feels like the same thing. It seems so wrong.

Also in this world nobody goes hungry or with out shelter because the Thunderhead makes sure that everyone is provided for. They feel very little pain and don't have the pressure of a limited life span to do something with their life. One of the characters made an interesting point that with out pain, or failure, or death that people can't truly feel the opposites emotions of joy and success. They are just going through life, not really feeling the real pleasure of living. It really made me think about the world we live in and how our trials and sorrows really do shape us and allow us to also see the very best in the world. Life isn't always perfect but it can really give us a better perspective.

I liked how this story played out. I liked the characters and how they had to struggle to come to terms with gleaning. The ending was really good and even though this is the first book in the series it doesn't feel like that. You could easily read this as just one story and move on because all the important things wrapped up pretty well at the end.  I really liked that it didn't end in some big cliff hanger.  I like a good series but sometimes it's nice to have a solid ending. I am sure I will read the next book in the series because I liked the characters so much and would be interested in seeing where life takes them next.