cover image Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)

Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe (Arc of a Scythe)

Neal Shusterman et al. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5344-9997-3

Spanning from the end of the mortal era alluded to in Scythe to the period following The Toll, Shusterman’s amalgam of in-world extrapolations—many written in collaboration with creators including Joelle Shusterman and David Yoon—explore previously under-illuminated corners of the Arc of a Scythe universe. While a handful of excellent stories add notable depth to two of the trilogy’s most pivotal characters, and others flesh out personages mentioned only in passing, the best engage playfully with the established works’ rules and tone. These include a paranoid-feeling thriller (“Never Work with Animals,” coauthored with Michael H. Payne), a deadly game of cat and mouse occurring in a literal dreamscape (“Perchance to Glean,” coauthored with Michelle Knowlden), a romantic comedy starring an accident-prone pair (“Meet Cute and Die”), and a surreal feud that turns Barcelona into a murderous Rube Goldberg machine (“The Persistence of Memory,” coauthored with Jarrod Shusterman and Sofía Lapuente). Though the volume’s not a starting place for series newcomers, existing fans will relish the varied tales, which handle themes of art, meaning, and morality in a post-death world with an efficacious mixture of humor, violence, and gentle absurdity. Ages 12–up. Agent: Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary. (Nov.)