Neal Shusterman

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Citra Terranova

One of the two teenage protagonists of the novel, the other being Rowan. Seventeen-year-old Citra is quick to anger and, when the reader first meets her, both fears and loathes scythes. She does, however… read analysis of Citra Terranova

Rowan Damisch

One of the novel's teenage protagonists, the other being Citra. When the reader meets Rowan, he's a self-professed "lettuce kid"—a forgotten middle child who believes his life is pointless. He does, however, demonstrate early… read analysis of Rowan Damisch

Scythe Curie

An old and famous scythe known as the Grande Dame of Death, as she gleaned the last president and his cabinet more than 150 years before the novel begins. She wears lavender robes, has long… read analysis of Scythe Curie

Scythe Goddard

The antagonist of the novel, Scythe Goddard is a charismatic scythe who wears lavish blue robes encrusted with diamonds. Goddard believes that gleaning should be public and iconic, as this is the only way for… read analysis of Scythe Goddard

Scythe Faraday / Gerald Van Der Gans

Scythe Faraday, born Gerald Van Der Gans, is an older scythe who, after gleaning Citra's neighbor and a student at Rowan's school, decides to take both teens on as his apprentices. Though Citra… read analysis of Scythe Faraday / Gerald Van Der Gans
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High Blade Xenocrates

The High Blade of MidMerica. He's a huge and imposing scythe who wears heavy gold robes. Citra notes that Xenocrates is full of contradictions: while his robes and his home—a simple cabin set atop the… read analysis of High Blade Xenocrates

Scythe Volta

The youngest of Scythe Goddard's followers. He has vaguely Afric leanings and wears yellow robes with embedded citrines. Though Rowan hates Volta at first, he soon begins to see that Volta isn't as heartless… read analysis of Scythe Volta


Esme is an overweight fourth grader whom Scythe Goddard uncharacteristically spares in a mass gleaning at a mall. He then takes her to live with him in Maxim Easley's mansion, where Rowan understands that… read analysis of Esme

Tyger Salazar

Rowan's best friend and fellow "lettuce kid," or forgotten middle child. Not long before the start of the novel, Tyger starts “splatting” so that he can force his parents to spend money on him… read analysis of Tyger Salazar

Scythe Chomsky

One of Scythe Goddard's followers. Chomsky is a hulking man who wears orange robes dotted with rubies. His weapon of choice is a flamethrower, and like Goddard, he takes pleasure in gleaning as spectacularly… read analysis of Scythe Chomsky


Citra's younger brother. Though he idolizes scythes, especially Scythe Curie, he's also afraid of them. Citra finds that Ben is the only person in her family able to converse normally with her after… read analysis of Ben

Rhonda Flowers

A girl whom Citra went to school with and, when they were children, pushed in front of a truck, rendering her deadish. Since humans in the immortal age can’t actually die naturally and are revived… read analysis of Rhonda Flowers

Scythe Mandela

An old, revered scythe on the bejewling committee. He's a member of the old guard and is friends with Scythes Curie and Faraday, and he thinks poorly of Scythe Goddard. Though he initially… read analysis of Scythe Mandela

Maxim Easley

The owner of an ornate mansion and an executive at one of the turncorner companies working on the technology to reset people to ages lower than 21. He's an exceptionally wealthy man but is still… read analysis of Maxim Easley
Minor Characters
Scythe Rand
Scythe Goddard's only female follower. She has Pan-Asian leanings and wears green robes with emeralds. She's just as cruel as Goddard and Chomsky, loves their mass gleanings, and plays games with some of her victims. Rowan kills her using Bokator moves during their gleaning on a Tonist cloister.
The Engineer
An engineer who works at Magnetic Propulsion Laboratories. He hopes that the Thunderhead is quietly contemplating making a second attempt to colonize Mars and the moon, and he hopes to be involved in the technological advancements necessary to do so.
Rowan's Grandma
Rowan's grandma seems intent on pestering Rowan's mom by resetting herself to an age younger than her daughter. She's married to a bot and is pregnant when Rowan accepts his apprenticeship.
Kohl Whitlock
The star quarterback at Rowan's school, whom Faraday decides to glean. Rowan and other students imply that Kohl was popular and somewhat cruel. He doesn't know Rowan's name, but instinctively grabs Rowan’s hand when Faraday gleans him.
The Businessman
A businessman on an airplane selected by Scythe Goddard for gleaning. He tries to escape, but when Goddard asks him to choose the order in which people will be gleaned, the businessman throws himself on Goddard's knife.
Brother Ferguson
A Tonist whose sister Scythe Curie gleans. He explains some basic tenets of the Tonist faith to Citra, specifically that Tonists don't believe death by scythe is real—therefore, he refuses to arrange his sister's funeral.
Citra's Mom
A food synthesis engineer. Citra's mom encourages Citra to accept the apprenticeship with Faraday for her son Ben's sake.
Rowan's Mom
Rowan's mom is often annoyed and stretched thin; she has many children and is often at odds with her mother, Rowan's grandma.
Marah Paulik
Kohl's girlfriend. She's furious with Rowan and makes Kohl's gleaning out to be Rowan's fault.
Scythe Yingxing
A silent scythe who gleans using Black Widow Bokator moves exclusively. He trains young scythes and scythes' apprentices in Bokator.
Scythe Cervantes
The scythe who administers the apprentices' test at Vernal Conclave. He's a fan of Bokator, and so holds a Bokator match.
Scythe San Martín
A humorless Chileargentine scythe tasked with capturing Citra.
Scythe Possuelo
An Amazonian scythe who aids Citra on the train between Chileargentina and Amazonia.
Citra's Dad
A historian who is married to Citra’s mom.
Curate Beauregard
A Tonist curate.
Scythe Prometheus
The first Supreme High Blade.