Arts and Culture

Quarantine Buddy with Citra: The Girl from an Utopian World

The first book of the trilogy, “Scythe.”

It’s been about two months since quarantine started for me. The delightful fact that I did not have to wake up at 5:30 A.M. every day to go to school was very exciting news—but only for a week.

Next came the fact that I could use all the time on my hands that I would have normally spent outside to be inside and browse the extensive internet. This got old relatively quickly. After a while, I was on my joyless, everyday routine: wake up, attend classes, exercise for a bit, spend some time reading, spend some time on the internet, shower, get ready for sleep, and sleep. Day after day, it just became a pattern. Then, one day, I was going through my books to find something to re-read, and “The Arc of a Scythe” trilogy by Neal Shusterman came into my mind. Its content is still fresh in my mind since the third book had come out just last year. Then, I began to think: what if Citra stayed in my house during this pandemic?

Citra Terranova is the protagonist of “The Arc of a Scythe” trilogy. She has darkish skin with black, wavy hair reaching down to her shoulders. To understand her, background information on her universe is necessary. In short, she comes from a utopia. The world she lives in has conquered hunger, disease, war and even death; it is controlled by an artificial being named the Thunderhead that exists to improve human life quality even more. Yet, living in a perfect world has its price. To keep the growing population under control, this world has “Scythes,” the only humans whose purpose is to end life.

Before the book started, Citra was a normal teenager; she went to school, hung out with friends and helped her little brother with homework. However, a visit from a Scythe changes her life. She is chosen by the Scythe to be one of his apprentices, and she has to accept. Think about it: what choice would you have if you’re standing in front of someone who can take your life whenever he wishes?

As his apprentice, she has to learn the “art” of taking someone’s life. Failure to do so will put her own life is at risk. Under such pressure, we follow Citra’s journey.

The first time I read the trilogy, I was immediately interested in Citra’s character. She is smart and clever. She is brave and courageous. She is a fast learner, and has outstanding physical abilities (for instance, she is extremely good at martial arts!). What is there not to love? In other words, she is a very likable character.

If she came to my house tomorrow, I’m sure she would be dumbfounded. One second, she is living in a relatively calm world; the next second, she has arrived at another version of the world that is in complete pandemonium.

When I first meet her, I will probably take the next few days explaining everything, such as the pandemic, the wars, poverty, hunger, corruption, pollution, discrimination, hate and all other miseries caused by humankind. To her, perhaps, this visit will be like time traveling: she would see how it would be to live in the past, to live in a world where humanity has not yet conquered misery—unlike hers. 

It will be very shocking to her, especially since during her stay she will be exposed to death: she will hear it every day on the news and know that anyone is at risk of dying any day. It will scare her, but she’ll learn from this. She’ll learn what it is like to live every day knowing it might be your last, and maybe she’ll learn to appreciate and value each second she lives.

From her, I hope to learn confidence and bravery. She is someone who expresses herself without fear when she needs to, and stands on the right side by herself when everyone else is too scared to do so. These are all valuable abilities I want to have. In addition, I wish to learn some martial arts skills from her, just so I can defend myself when I need to.

She would stay with me for as much time as she needs. Knowing her, I think she would want to understand everything about mortal humans before returning to her world where humans are basically immortal. When she leaves, I hope that each of us will go back to our normal lives with one or more valuable lessons learned from each other.

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