Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

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Angus & Robertson:

Published in Australia on the 5th November, 2019 by Walker Books.

Australian RRP: $16.99

ISBN: 9781406385670

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 631

Sypnosis from Walker Books Australia:

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver. In this pulse-pounding finale to Neal Shusterman’s internationally bestselling trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

My Review:

The Toll by Neal Shusterman sees The Arc of a Scythe trilogy reach its penultimate conclusion. After the climatic and heart palpating events of its predecessor, Thunderhead, I felt like a lot was riding on this final installment of one of my all time favourite series, which started with Citra and Rowan being selected to become apprentice Scythes, although only one of them would supposedly ascend to Scythedom.

For my fellow fans of The Arc of a Scythe series, you might agree with me when I say that the rest is history, in a sense. Throughout Scythe and Thunderhead we saw so much happen and as I mentioned, after the revelations and self sacrificing actions that ended Thunderhead, it certainly felt like that The Toll had a lot to live up to. The Arc of a Scythe series was something that completely blew me away when I first discovered it, I even recently reread Scythe to go back where it all began and although I didn’t reread Thunderhead, I remember the events of it absolutely vividly!

As a result, The Toll has longtime been a personal anticipated read of mine, and truth be told I honestly had been putting off reading it, knowing that it’s the final installment of a series featuring some completely memorable characters, who I’ll definitely miss! From Scythe Michael Faraday, the wise and noble who initially took both Rowan and Citra under his guidance as his apprentice Scythes, to the formidable but wonderful Scythe Curie, known as The Grand Dame of Death, who was known as ruthless and unafraid but was every bit as caring as she was formidable! Then there’s a specific Scythe who thinks he’s above everything and everyone, one who fills himself with the belief that he can create a new grand age of living and would totally not blink an eye at he and his Scythe cohorts performing mass gleanings just, well because they can. Of course, I’m referring to none other than Scythe Robert Goddard.

The Toll, without being too spoiler-y, because I do feel like this trilogy should be read and enjoyed without knowing the bulk of the backstory! I absolutely adored every page of this final installment, I truly cannot think of a more fitting and satisfying conclusion to one of the most unique series that I’ve ever read and I daresay that I won’t ever read anything like it again! Although I definitely do know that a reread of this series will definitely be on the cards at some stage. Honestly, if it weren’t for an infinite to be read list I’d probably just throw caution to the wind and reread them again already! 😉

Falling into The Toll was like stepping onto a roller coaster, albeit I’ve never actually been on one (I’m literally not even close to being a thrill seeker, but I can imagine the feeling from observing them at Carnivals and such!). The Toll provided not only an utterly phenomenon of a reading experience, and not even once could I even attempt to anticipate what would come next! I never quite could anticipate how much more ruthless Scythe Goddard would get in his goal to create his seamlessly perfect new world, which was completely terrifying in itself (Scythe Goddard is easily one of the most ruthless villains I’ve read about, his ideals reminding me of Lord Voldemort and Jonathan Morgenstern from Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments, respectively). It was so engaging and completely horrifying reading about how he was just falling more into his ruthless ways, wanting to organise mass gleams of anyone who would question his authority or might stand against his ways!

In turn though, it was so satisfying reading scenes with him and his third-in-command Scythe Rand, who was starting to wonder about her guide’s motives and actions.

Neal Shusterman’s attention to detail in The Toll was absolutely brilliant, so intricate in describing and portraying The Tone, The Toll and The Thunder so vividly and not only that, but he captures the emotions of The Thunderhead so vividly, something that was always so crucial to the core of the story, but had only communicated to one who that was deemed worthy. Throughout The Toll, the reader learns many a revelation about the original Scythes, the Thunderhead and familiar faces that might have caused more damage to world disasters that were let on. The Toll is definitely a contender for my favourite books of 2020, I’m still reeling! There were so many moments throughout this book that had me on tender hooks, I couldn’t wait to see what would be unearthed next! I especially loved where it took Citra and Rowan, two of whom will continue to be among my all time favourite characters, along with the lovely Scythe Faraday and noble Scythe Curie, too.

Honestly, if you haven’t read these books, I cannot recommend them enough! They’ll pull you in with their unique storyline and wonderful characters and definitely not let go for a long time!

About the Author (from Walker Books Australia):

Neal Shusterman is an award-winning author whose books include the Arc of a Scythe series (Scythe, Thunderhead and The Toll), the New York Times bestselling Unwind series and Challenger Deep, which won a National Book Award. He also writes screenplays for film and television, for shows such as Goosebumps and Animorphs. He lives in Southern California with his four children. Follow him on Twitter: @NealShusterman

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