‘Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe’ by Neal Shusterman – Book Review

Anthology Collection for those who are who are die-hard Scythe enthusiasts

In the year 2016, Neal Shusterman elevated the YA dystopian genre by releasing the novel Scythe. It is thought-provoking and enjoyable, Scythe and its sequels offer romance, adventure, and a number of ethical issues in a post-mortality society. Scythe: Gleanings: The stories of Scythe’s Arc of a Scythesucceeds similarly, though the stories are likely to be truly engaging for the most ardent avid readers from Scythe. Scythe series.

Gleanings are set in the same setting as the previous ones however it doesn’t follow the place that It picks up where Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) left off. The YA dystopian series isn’t linear and includes some stories that tell the story of origins, while others dive into characters who aren’t familiar while others inform us about the events that followed Toll. Toll.

Thou shalt kill. It’s the law that guarantees that the human population is in check in a world in which death has been defeated. This is known as gleaning and the use of scythes is the main aspect of each of the novels, but it’s also the core of this collection. Gleanings are concerned, like its predecessors, with the ethics of killing for a supposed “greater good.” But it also highlights, even more, the performance of gleaning in this society, the identity shift that comes from becoming a scythe, and the unwieldy-yet-powerful nature of memory in a society where life goes on… and on… and on.

Gleanings start with a poem written by Joelle Shusterman (Neal Shusterman’s daughter) entitled “The First Swing.” It is a powerful depiction of scythedom, describing it as an act of servanthood and puppetry, and beautifully leads into stories that question what scythes are actually about.

The poems are followed by stories, composed by Neal Shusterman, but some are co-written by other writers. The co-writers comprise Michael H. Payne (“Never Work with Animals”); David Yoon (“The Mortal Canvas”); Jarold Shusterman and Sofia Lapuente (“The Persistence of Memory”) as well as Michelle Knowlden (“Perchance to Glean”).

Some stories don’t contribute too much to Shusterman’s beautifully-conceived dystopian world. “Never Work with Animals” and its sly concept at the very least provide amusing mockery of corruption in scythes. Additionally “Cirri” demonstrates Shusterman’s struggle to frame his stories within their sci-fi aspects. Even though it’s true that the Thunderhead (the AI that Cirri is a branch of) is an essential and intriguing aspect of the dystopian story I find it more interesting when Shusterman concentrates on human struggles and emotions within a society dominated by artificial intelligence.

However, other books in the collection were able to provide more details about Shusterman’s characters, setting, and themes. There’s more world-building to the world of “Perchance to Glean,” while “A Martian Minute” delivers an intriguing tale of the origins. However, I really enjoyed the way Gleanings provided its main character (scythes and their goal) with a humorous as well as mocking approach.

“The First Swing” sets the stage, however other stories follow, with dissonant depictions that depict the power of the scythedom. “The Persistence of Memory” and “A Dark Curtain Rises” specifically and poignantly emphasize the shortcomings of the scythedom as in the realization: Nobody wins when humanity has to fight itself. A fitting title for a series titled “Arc of a Scythe,” Shusterman closes out this story in a pleasing manner, from the reverence of gleanings and scythes in The Scythe to more nuanced depictions in The Gleanings.

It’s an expectation for me to have had a good time reading and enjoying this series. Arc of Scythe series prior to picking up this book, as it will require the context of Shusterman’s characters and setting. This is for die-hard Scythe enthusiasts: Explore the Gleanings and then enjoy the next installments within the world of Neal Shusterman.

We are grateful to NetGalley along with Simon & Schuster for the advanced reader’s copy. Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe will be available on the 8th of November 2022.


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