Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story balanced by emotion.



A sci-fi adventure with a sweet YA love story at its center.

Kira Donovan is enjoying high school with her boyfriend, Tristan, and her best friend, Bri. She’s had to take all these weird intellectual, psychological and physical tests, but she’s got an end-of-the-year party to look forward to. Searching for Tristan among the partygoers, she runs into Ethan, who has eyes too blue and a face too handsome to ignore. After a terrible tragedy that evening claims the lives of her friends, Kira and the school loner, Blake, find themselves on a harsh but habitable planet called Thera, which is governed by mysterious powers. There are nightly doctor’s visits, hours of computer-led classes and strange ways of getting around, like zip lines and skateboards. As roommates at school, Kira and Blake are expected to “Cleave,” or mate for life. But Blake, having grown up with the hardship of alternating between Earth and Thera, has his own agenda, one that includes revenge upon the brutal Theran leaders who destroyed his family. When Tristan, Bri and Ethan all show up, with no memory of their past lives or deaths, Kira and Blake feel the stakes of their joint mission—and of their romantic expectations—rise even higher. Author Thomason rotates the chapters through different characters’ perspectives, allowing their distinctive voices and conflicting motivations to round out her thoroughly described world. The narrative perfectly captures the cadences and nuances of teen speech, blending with a richly imagined alternate world in which breaking the rules can result in being “Exiled” to certain death—but sticking to the rules may be just as bad.

Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story balanced by emotion. 

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480226555

Page Count: 320

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.


From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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