Gleanings, by Neal Shusterman


Stories from the Arc of a Scythe

by Neal Shusterman

Simon & Schuster, 2022. 426 pages.
Review written February 15, 2023, from a library book
Starred Review

Gleanings is a collection of stories that all take place in the world created for the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. Most are written by Neal Shusterman, but some with co-authors.

It’s fabulous that Neal Shusterman has done this — the world of the Scythes is so rich, and so full of philosophical implications. This book explores those implications more fully, with some taking place before the books of the trilogy, some after, and some during the same time period. Characters we are familiar with appear or are mentioned in most of the stories. And we’ve got origin stories of a couple of imposing figures from the trilogy.

Just to review, these books take place in our world — but humanity has overcome death. Instead of governments, the world is governed by the Thunderhead — the result of what happened when “the Cloud” became sentient. The Thunderhead is a benevolent ruler, but since there is no more death (memories and personalities can be downloaded by the Thunderhead), the earth will become overpopulated if nothing is done. Humans decided not to give that responsibility to the Thunderhead, but created a class of Scythes responsible for gleaning a certain percentage of the population. These stories explore what that kind of society would be like, looking at how it would impact individuals — which is somewhat different from the big-picture story of the trilogy.

You won’t want to read these stories as your first introduction to the post-mortal age. If you haven’t read the books yet, check out Scythe immediately. If you have read the trilogy, you’ll be as delighted as I was to explore the world of the Scythes further.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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