Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Hi Blisses,

If you haven’t read book 1 and 2, please don’t read this review yet…

TITLE: The Toll
BY: Neal Shusterman
SERIES: Arc of a Scythe #3
GENRE: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction
PUBLICATION: Nov. 5, 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


It’s been three years since the events of book two; since the island of the Enduring Heart sunk; since the Grandslayers, leaders of the Scythes, are gone with the island; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself to everyone except Greyson Tolliver; since Rowan and Citra disappeared.

After that wild cliffhanger from book 2, I was so excited to know what happens next. I admit I was expecting a grander finale of this series, and I’m just going to let it out now before everything else — this finale is not at all what I expected.

The writing is superb still…

I’m still fascinated with the world the author created. Every aspect, the system, the people and the geography even though it’s based in our current world. I’m actually happy that the plot of The Toll is set in different countries that I only had a glimpse of in the past books. And really, if I’m going to be technical, the story didn’t just end in the world. I’m also glad that I now fully get everything about the Tonists. Tonists are anti-scythe and in the past books, they’re just that. But in here, they really became active in the story, which is not surprising considering the title, The Toll.

The silence of the Thunderhead is definitely what drives the plot more intense because of course, people panicked. But the Scythedom, even though it’s never a business of thunderhead was also in chaos with Goddard as seemingly self-appointed leader. The politics is definitely strong in this finale

The turn of events are underwhelming…

I want to rant, but I’ll try not to. Starting from Rowan and Citra. They became lame characters. Maybe because there are so many characters in this book and the focus of the plot is not just Rowan and Citra anymore. Still, Rowan’s parts are so few and whenever he’s on the page, he seems to be in some kind of a demise. I was like, what happened to his badass self as Scythe Lucifer? And Citra is also helpless and sure she did more than Rowan but not enough as a main character. Also where is their romance? Aside from the ending, I never felt it.

I wasn’t impressed with what happened in Nod after it was found by Scythe Faraday. Heck, I wasn’t impressed with Scythe Faraday himself. He became a very lame character and no role at all after learning about what happened in Endura. I wasn’t impressed with the Toll himself. I wasn’t also impressed with the tonists and Thunderhead’s big plan to solve everything. After reading this, I finally understand why some readers were disappointed with how the story ended. I read the whole series in four days but I never thought it will go where it did.

A wrap-up that makes sense but still…

Honestly, understanding the past and the present makes the ending a good one. Thunderhead’s solution to the world’s problem makes sense. It is something that was already done before but was ruined by one scythe — Scythe Goddard. There’s a reveal about Goddard’s past that make the ending okay but still I found it so unexpected and really underwhelming. And speaking of Goddard,

I still don’t see him as a villain…

Like I said in my review for Book 1 and 2, for me, the villain was never Scythe Goddard no matter how twisted his ways are. I was really excited to read more about Goddard’s character, and his assistant, Scythe Rand. Well, Rand really took some interesting path. With Goddard, in book 1, I wasn’t really that impressed with Goddard’s character. That’s why I never saw him as a villain but the reveal about his past made me think again. But then again, he did it for the future of scythedom. So his reasoning is twisted but his will is valid. Anyway, I can say that I’m contended with whatever Goddard’s character has given me.

Meh side characters except one (or two)…

I already talked about the main characters so let me get through some side characters. Most of them are recurring characters, some are new but most of them played big roles in the story — the scythes who helped Citra, the scythes from different sides of the world, who are now part of the plot because of Goddard’s desire to rule the world, the nimbus agents who are in Nod, the tonists and more. Sadly, they didn’t impress me that much. I was almost bored by them. Some even annoyed me, like Munira, Scythe Faraday’s assistant. She always finds something to dislike in everybody. She was like that too with Citra in book 2. She’s so insecure.

Thankfully, I didn’t dislike all of them because there’s Scythe Morrison. He’d been in the last book, trying to woo Citra but not romantically, and I liked his character’s storyline. And then there’s Jerico, or Jeri. S/he is a captain of a salvage team who found Citra and Rowan. Jeri stood by Citra till the end and I enjoyed every scene s/he’s in. I definitely enjoyed his/her thing with Greyson and the thunderhead.

Speaking of the Thunderhead. In the previous books, I’ve always pictured it as just some program but in this finale, I didn’t even notice that I’m already using pronouns for it. Sometimes, it’s a he, sometimes a she. That said, the Thunderhead became a more convincing character for me, so of course it made me really sad when he said something like it’s its destiny to be alone.

RATING: 4 blissful pages with lilies

My rating is definitely bias. I love this series, I read it in four days and so even though I found lots of underwhelming aspect in The Toll, I can’t give it a rating lower than 4. Besides, like I said, the ending makes sense despite it being unexpected.

Here’s my review of the first two books. Click the titles.

Book 1: Scythe
Book 2: Thunderhead

Have you read this book? Or planning to? What do you think of it? Let’s chat.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

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