Posted in book review

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

scytheIn the future, humans are more or less immortal. Society is controlled by the Thunderhead, an AI cloud that has conquered all our problems: hunger, war, pollution, disease, death. So…. I know what you’re thinking–Thunderhead runs amok and goes all dystopian on the world. Wrong. People love Thunderhead. It has every thing worked out and life is pretty good. The only problem is over-population, which is an unavoidable byproduct of immortality. But not to worry because the world has the Scythes–an honorable, fair system of using assassins to randomly kill people. (Ha, that’s one sentence I never thought I’d be writing…) The Scythe system is the only part of humanity not governed by the Thunderhead but it follows strict rules to make sure deaths are not discriminatory or targeted. So far, it’s been working pretty well. But humans will be human so that can only last so long…

In this surprisingly non-dystopian world, we also have Citra and Rowan, two teens who are chosen as apprentice Scythes. Only one of them will be picked to continue on as a full Scythe, causing some tension between them. But their situation also causes them to bond as they move from relatively normal lives into one in which death is an every day occurrence. And then, they start to find out that the system is not as honorable as they thought. Politics, combined with a group of sociopaths, have corrupted the Scythe system and chance has put Citra and Rowan right in the middle. Before they know it, they are embroiled in life or death situations that most of the world doesn’t even realize are happening. Only the outcome is sure — one of them will die.

Fast-paced, suspenseful and interesting, this is a book that is hard to put down. Citra and Rowan are strong, thoughtful characters, as are Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie. The plot throws some twists at you while periodic journal entries tell the back story and shed insight into the motivations of the adult characters. Highly recommended!



Find SCYTHE in the BEHS Library

Submitted by Ms. Bing

Genre: Science Fiction


Posted in book review

Spring Reads – Action & Suspense to Give Your Brain a Break

Here are some fun books that you definitely should add to your spring reading list. Unless you don’t like great stories, likeable characters, fun plot twists, and lots of action. In that case, you probably should skip these.


The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Elizabeth Grey might be female, rather delicate looking, and just a tad insecure but she’s also one of the best witch hunters out there. If you’re smart, you might not want to turn your back on her. On the other hand, if you have her loyalty you can be sure that she has your back. The question, in this plot-twisting magical thriller, is who should Elizabeth give her loyalty to? The good guys–who might be the bad guys? Or the bad guys–who might be the good guys?

I don’t want to give too much away here but I can say The Witch Hunter delivers. With a fast-moving story line, believable characters, chase scenes, lots of magic, a little bit of romance and some credible suspense, how can you go wrong? Plus, even though it’s a series (The King Slayer is coming in June), the ending is satisfying with the promise of more to come–no dreadful cliffhanger leaving you swinging in the wind. And, can I just say thank you for a normal name for the main character?

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Solara Brooks (you see what I’m saying?) is heading just about as far away as one can get–to the outer galaxy, in fact. Unfortunately, she has a little problem–no money. And another little problem–a criminal record. But she does have a job waiting if she can just get transport in exchange for work. Well, as you can imagine, she does get transport. The only problem is her new boss, Doran Spaulding, has never liked her and is planning on making her life miserable. The trip takes an interesting turn, however, when Doran threatens to drop her off in the middle of the journey with no resources. Suddenly, a miserable but necessary space flight turns into a dangerous road trip through the galaxies and Solara finds herself part of a starship crew that may or may not also be on the run. Lots of plot twists combined with space pirates and other dangers make this a fun SciFi read and, hopefully, the start of a new series.

Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

Lady Truthful Newington (fortunately known to her friends as “Newt”) is about to celebrate her 18th birthday and be introduced to London society. Naturally, she’s excited, especially because she finally will see the amazing and magical Newington Emerald, a family treasure that she will inherit when she turns 25. Her birthday dinner goes a bit awry, however, when the Emerald gets stolen and her father becomes ill. Not one to sit around and wait, Newt decides that she needs to take matters into her own hands to get the Emerald back. Needless to say, events do not go quite as she plans and she gets herself into a series of magical mishaps that just seem to get worse by the day. Fortunately, there are several cute guys involved, not to mention subterfuge and sorcery. This is a magical romp of a story that is perfect for spring reading. Enjoy it with tea and crumpets on the side.

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Georgiana likes science and she’s curious, two personality quirks that just are not acceptable in London society in Regency England. After she accidentally burns down the stables, Georgiana is banished to Stranje House where girls go to be disciplined into acceptable behavior. After only an hour in the house, Georgiana realizes she needs to escape. But her curiosity soon gets the best of her. Is Stranje House what it’s supposed to be? If so, then why are there secret passages and, apparently, secret meetings going on? And what about her fellow inmates/students who seem to have even more unusual “personality quirks” than Georgiana has? You’ll  have to read it to find out, but you’ll definitely enjoy this fast-paced genre-bending historical fiction/suspense/paranormal/gothic novel.

All of these books feature strong female leads supported by a well-developed cast of characters, both male and female. Combine that with fast-moving plots and quirky characters and you have some fun reading–perfect for students who want to take a break from tests and research papers in the spring.

Submitted by Ms. Bing

Find all of these books and more in the BEHS Library!

Posted in book review

Dystopian Fiction – What the BEHS Book Club Read Last Month


Every month, the BEHS Library Book Club picks a different genre to read then we share the ones we like best. November was all about dystopian novels. Here are some of the favorites:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, a fantasy/dystopian novel that gets rave reviews here. After her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover at the empire’s military academy in exchange for help from rebel Scholars. There she meets a soldier named Elias, and they soon realize that their fates not only are intertwined but could affect the future of the Empire itself.

402057_mBoneshaker by Cherie Priest, a steampunk zombie-infested dystopian novel with airships. Do I really need to say more? I’m checking this one out today!

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan mixes science fiction with dystopia. Stranded in Honolulu after a worldwide electronics failure, Leilani and her father must make their way home to Hilo amid escalating perils, including her severe epilepsy.

The Sky so Heavy by Claire Zorn, a gripping post-apocalyptic novel reviewed here earlier. After a nuclear bomb explodes, teens separated from their parents set off on a road trip to find help, books-2learning quite a bit along the way.

The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey is an unusual zombie dystopian novel, well worth the read. Melanie–smart, caring, curious, “alive”–has spent her life in a cage, only allowed out while strapped to a wheel chair. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Melanie, the facility she’s in and life in a post-zombie America where the good guys aren’t necessarily good and the zombies just might have something to teach us all.

So many dystopians to choose from–post apocalyptic, science fiction, paranormal, mash-ups of all sorts, or straight up dictatorships… What’s your favorite dystopian novel?