Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll Neal Shusterman

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3)
Neal Shusterman
Simon & Schuster
Published November 5, 2019

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About The Toll

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 conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

The Toll on Goodreads

My Review

I needed a break between THUNDERHEAD, the second book in the series, and THE TOLL. The ending of THUNDERHEAD kind of overwhelmed me, so it took me a while to feel like I was ready to pick up where it left off.

This is kind of a dark book, especially at the beginning. Scythe Goddard is in charge and pretty much willing to do anything to cement his power. Rowan and Citra return, but of course if Goddard finds out they’re alive, they’ll be in trouble. Grayson finds himself in a really strange situation with the Thunderhead once again. As he and his allies discover more about the history of the Scythe system and Goddard becomes still more unhinged, it becomes pretty clear they need to do something big.

I liked all the buildup where the story bounced between different characters, and it feels like all of them begin moving toward one cohesive goal. This book introduces some new characters that I enjoyed a lot. I think this book needed to feel really big, and it did feel like that to me.

Thoughts on Technology in The Toll

In this whole series, humans have a really interesting relationship with technology. The Thunderhead knows all of history and connects to each person (outside of the Scythes) so that it knows them deeply. It also views itself as a sort of shepherd of humanity, and humans have come to rely on it as a companion they can speak to at any time. It’s not presented really as a religion, but it sort of functions that way.

On the one hand, I really enjoyed that this is a technology-positive story. There are TONS of books out there where the computer turns out to be the super villain, right? This one isn’t really like that. But it does present some interesting questions about our dependence on technology and whether that’s a good thing. So, I liked some of questions the story raised in that vein.

I’m glad I finally did sit down and finish the series. I think it was worth finishing. Readers who enjoy a good dystopian series should check this one out.

The Toll on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

In this futuristic story world, all races are pretty mixed. Certain characters are also described as “leaning” toward a particular race or other. Scythes are mandated to kill across a diverse population or else face punishment.

One character is genderfluid.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Reference to sex between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Tonists are a cult of people whose worship centers around sound. They believe in the Toll, a prophet of sorts.

Violent Content
Sythes glean (kill) people in various ways, sometimes violent ones. Tonists attack and attempt to kill people they oppose.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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