I never used to read Science Fiction. To recommend books to my students who are Sci-Fi readers, I decided to expand my repertoire of genres. Not knowing where to start, I went to the source, and I asked my students for suggestions. The first title proffered? Unwind by Neal Schusterman. Much to my surprise, I loved this sci/fi dystopic story. It was a novel that opened numerous themes, the types of topics that engage young adults: parent abandonment, friendship, medical ethics. And “Unwind is wonderfully a part of a series: “Unwind” “Unsouled” “Unwholly”, “Undivided”. Us book nerds LOVE an excellent long series right?
As much as I loved the Unwind series, it is Schusterman’s newest series that has captured and tightly bound my interest to the point where I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL 2019, for the third book to be released. I recommended Scythe to my book club, filled with mothers, teachers, and retired librarians. Undoubtedly a collection of ladies with distinct literary taste. They all loved it and promptly got their hands on book two ThunderHead.
What is the Scythe arc about? Imagine no politicians, every decision is left to the Thunderhead, an entity similar to “the Cloud”. Imagine a world where technology has advanced to the point where no one dies, and if they do, they can easily be “reassembled”. Imagine this world becoming overrun by humans to the point where we, as a species, must be culled. Now imagine if your calling was to cull humans. A respected, feared and almost sacred calling….to be a Scythe. Like Unwind, this series has the potential to incite in-depth, introspective classroom discussion.
It should be noted that he Unwind series is consistently signed out of our school library. The novel has also been used in our Religious Studies class for the opportunities created for discussion on ethics and morality. Scythe is becoming popular at our school as well mainly because we have a solid group of die-hard Schusterman fans.
I had the opportunity to hear Neal Schusterman speak at the National Council of Teachers of English conference a couple of years ago. He remembers what it was like to be a student, a student with imagination in need of an opportunity to create. He KNOWS what it takes to turn reluctant readers into avid readers.
Go to the readers in your class for title suggestions! You know who they are!
Link to Neal Schusterman’s site where you can learn all about his amazing series can be found here.