Sunday, July 31, 2022



Rating: 4/5 stars

The Arc of a Scythe is one of my favorite dystopian series and one of my favorite young adult series ever, but even though I love it so much, I was a little apprehensive to read Gleanings because I have a history of not liking anthologies very much, which this book is.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by this collection. I really shouldn’t be though, as I love Neal Shusterman’s writing and worldbuilding, and this anthology stays true to his style. 

I recommend reading this book only after finishing The Toll. The stories here take place before, during, and after the series, but even the stories that occur pre-Scythe are best read afterward as there are still spoilers for the series in them and reveals that won’t make sense unless you already have the knowledge of the whole trilogy. 

True to the book’s title, each of the stories has to do with gleaning in some way. Most of the stories are about characters that we’ve never met before, so I didn’t have a ton of emotional attachment to any of them, but they were still good stories. We got to peek into the lives of people all over the world and experience more fleshed-out worldbuilding for this series than we got in the original three books. 

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Gleanings. If you are a fan of the Scythe series then you will almost certainly enjoy this collection of stories; but on the other hand, if you want to be done with this series after The Toll and not continue on, then you’re not missing anything crucial here. This anthology is entirely extra material for the fans without being a must-read. It doesn’t negate the ending of the third book or anything drastic like that (as I’ve, unfortunately, seen done before), but simply expounds on a world that readers already know and love. 

“Formidable”—4 stars
We love to see Scythe Curie being a boss. I believe that the events of this story were alluded to in the original trilogy so it was cool to see them played out. 

“Never Work with Animals”—3 stars
This one really surprised me. Definitely didn’t expect it to turn out the way it did. Not my favorite story but still a good one. Also the longest one in the collection, I believe. 

“A Death of Many Colors”—4.5 stars 
I love reading from the Thunderhead’s point of view. And this story was really interesting, surrounding a group of people who don’t believe Scythes are real. 

“Unsavory Row”—4 stars
A very interesting look at the different kinds of Unsavories and the experiences they have. I’m glad this one was included here because I feel like I understand Unsavories better after reading it. 

“A Martian Minute”—4 stars 
Wow, that ending got me. I wasn’t sure about this story the whole time I was reading it because I don’t generally love stories set on Mars, but then the last couple of paragraphs changed everything. That’s the thing about Neal Shusterman—he has a way of writing that leads you down a curvy path where you aren’t sure where he’s leading you but you’re invested enough to keep going, and then you reach the end and suddenly everything makes sense and you realize you’ve been on a remarkable journey and you’ll never be the same. I noticed this numerous times as I was reading the Scythe series, and “A Martian Minute” is no different. Wow. 

“The Mortal Canvas”—4.5 stars 
This was one of my favorite stories in the collection. I love art and artistic exploration, and I enjoyed seeing it through the eyes of these four students as they worked to impress Scythe Af Klint. 

“Cirri”—3 stars 
A story told by “the solitary offspring of the Thunderhead’s brief union with a human,” called Cirri. This story won’t make sense unless you’ve finished The Toll. This one was less exciting than some of the others. 

“Anastasia’s Shadow”—3.5 stars 
This is a story about Citra’s brother, Ben, undergoing scythe training, and it turned out to be rather wholesome in the end. 

“The Persistence of Memory”—4 stars 
Ironic and funny, this story is the second one about art in this collection. I enjoyed it, especially the ending. 

“Meet Cute and Die”—5 stars 
Even though I didn’t know any of these characters before reading this story, I love them all now. Marni and Cochran, who actually did have a meet cute before they both died. I laughed out loud multiple times during this short story. One of the best in the collection, in my opinion. 

“Perchance to Glean”—3 stars 
This story takes place in Antarctica, where people have collective dreams together and scythes glean only during dreams. I thought this was a cool concept, but I have to say that this is the weakest of all the stories in this collection and was a little confusing at times, as is common with stories set in the unlawful land of dreamscapes. 

“A Dark Curtain Rises”—3.5 stars 
A story that takes place far after the end of The Toll, so I won’t say too much about it other than it was unexpected but I liked it. An excellent ending to this collection and also to the Arc of a Scythe series of books as a whole. 

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