Series: Arc of a Scythe #4
Age Category: Young Adult
Published: November 8, 2022
The New York Times bestselling Arc of the Scythe series continues with thrilling stories that span the timeline. Storylines continue. Origin stories are revealed. And new Scythes emerge!
There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease, or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control.
Neal Shusterman—along with collaborators David Yoon, Jarrod Shusterman, Sofía Lapuente, Michael H. Payne, Michelle Knowlden, and Joelle Shusterman—returns to the world throughout the timeline of the Arc of a Scythe series. Discover secrets and histories of characters you’ve followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.
Gleanings shows just how expansive, terrifying, and thrilling the world that began with the Printz Honor–winning Scythe truly is.
If anyone had asked me if a short story collection set in the world of Arc of a Scythe could live up to the original trilogy, with its complex characters, twisty plot, and thought-provoking questions about what it means to be human, I would have said no. And I would have been completely wrong. Gleanings sweeps readers back into the post-mortal world as if no time has been lost between book 3 and book 4, and I was riveted by nearly every page.
The Arc of a Scythe is immersive because looks unflinchingly at what it would mean for humans to “conquer death” — and really any unpleasantness, from pain to crime. No facet is left unexplored, from the effect this would have on the creation of art to the question of free will and the ethics of having an AI run the world. There are also, of course, the scythes, who do deal out death, having a power perhaps no one should have. Much of the book is about how such a community would play out, if it could stay true to its ideals.
And Gleanings goes right back into this. Some of the questions are the same that are explored in the original trilogy, but the angles and the answers feel new. After all, is there really a definitive answer to the question of, “Can art exist without pain?” What even is art? What counts as pain? Must fear of death be involved? And fear of death isn’t even completely gone because of the scythes. This book made me stop and think, and it made me feel, and it was wonderful.
It’s also at times humorous, which is great when you have a book called Gleanings where, you know, people are gleaned (coughkilledcough). Some of the scythes manage to be ridiculous or get themselves into ridiculous situations, which helps put in perspective that they are still human, no matter the power they have been given.
The only two stories I found disappointing were about Scythe Marie Curie, which is odd considering she’s such a striking character in the first three books, and these stories should have been marvelous gifts to fans who would like to see more about her. I felt the first had very little conflict/movement, and an event that should have been interesting simply fell flat. The second one will help tie up loose ends for fans, but also didn’t feel like much of an actual story.
You do need to have read the first three books to understand this book. I struggled a bit even though I have, and I think it’d be best enjoyed for people who have a fresh memory of the rest of the stories. Definitely one of my top reads of 2022 (though I posted my favorite YA books of 2022 list before I read this. Oops.).
5 thoughts on “Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman (and Co-authors)”
Woot woot! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this. 😀 I was really looking forward to this anthology, but anthologies are always so hit or miss for me. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this one, too. 🙂 Pretty solid addition to a series I already loved.
Yeah, I usually hate short story collections but not this!
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This series has been on my wish list for long time, I hope to get it soon. Amazing review!
I think it might be one of my favorite series!
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I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I loved the original trilogy, but I’ve been on the fence about reading this, since some stories are by other authors. I think you’ve convinced me to give it a try! Off to get on my library’s waiting list…