This Was Unexpected.
This review will be a first for me. As I will be showcasing two very different reviews. But before I get to much further into that let me tell you this The Toll really threw me. This was not nearly the book I was mentally prepared for in so many ways. And Neal Shusterman really pissed me off for a minute. But I digress. This is obviously the review for The Toll by Neal Shusterman. It is the third and final book in the Arc of The Scythe series... and it was a doozy. I'm gonna start with my first rendition of my review.
December 30th 2019
SO Long story short I finished The Toll in forty-eight hours.... This book was nothing.... like the rest of its series. I had so many problems with it I'm not sure where to even begin... I'm left with an ending that is so ridiculous in my mind that I'm just not sure what to do with it. I loved so many of the modern aspects of this story including the references to being non-binary and love is love. I struggled with a lot of my favorite characters choices through this book and some of them really didn't feel true to their characters in any shape way or form. Not only that but time was split between so many people I felt like I never got to see my Rowan and Citra.
This is where I stopped.... I was so focused on getting this book read in December that I almost felt like I hadn't read the book at all. I couldn't remember new characters just that the old ones felt like they had betrayed who I had known. I couldn't remember details that should have stood out in the fore ground and so I made the choice to reread.
January 6th 2020
I just finished The Toll for a second time.... I still have so many emotions when it comes this story but somehow... reading it and working through it. Taking notes and breaking it all down.... I have come to really appreciate all the work that Shusterman has put into this finale.
One of my favorite things about the Arc of The Scythe series was the amount of construction that had to go into these characters. For being all under 20 Greyson, Citra and Rowan all are wise beyond their years and whether that comes from Scythe training or just being the only being the Thunderhead cares to speak to I can't tell you but.... I will say that this series showcases a large cast of vastly different but extremely dynamic characters. Each and every one has an arc all their own and even the ones I never thought could break do. This book was definitely one that showed that even those who we see to be all knowing have a shattering point. In every book we see both Citra and Rowan advance in a multitude of ways as well as in their relationship without even being near one another. Not just that but the evolution of Goddard has been insane too. I have never enjoyed a mastermind villain like I have him (that wasn't like a dark and sexy Darkling like man). But Goddard not only believes his own myth but manages to convince the entirety of the world to do so as well. His idea of improving the world for the greater good and his plans to do so are cunning and diabolical. But his own story comes to light in this book as well and how he came to be which is a fascinating development in its own right.
At the end of the Thunderhead I had an idea of where I thought the storyline was headed. But I was dead wrong. I'm pretty sure that if a person tells you they saw this coming I would call them out on the spot. What was so shocking about where Shusterman decided to take our ending proves how masterful he is at his craft. He brings together so many different storyline within this plot and ties them together with ease. Not only that but the direction in which the book takes is able to settle things in the world as well as create a possible new source of interest. While I was sure of where I thought this book needed to go.... I am surprised that this second time around it feels as if the all-knowing Thunderhead's plan was the only one worth being behind. How on Earth did I ever think this story could have ended another way?
This series is addicting in the fact that even with the idea of conquering mortality seems like a far fetched concept... our world is constantly changing and adapting. Our technology is only getting smart as the days pass. We are becoming more and more dependent on all things tech based. We are curing diseases every day. This book has such a large draw because it is a realistic futuristic setting that could very well one day be our reality..... Shusterman constructs a world so very similar to our own with the concept of Scythes being the bringers of death to even out the human population of the world in tandem with a overlord type being who controls everything down to the ability to just not do anything with your life. Shusterman touches on every day issues that we see now being an even more significant non-issue cause it doesn't matter when you don't have to worry about anything. The idea of our newer generations being overly demanding as well as expecting everything to just fall into their laps, its here but its normalized because the Thunderhead is humanity's nursemaid. Shusterman in The Toll touches on the binary and nonbinary crisis and breaks it down to what does it matter? Does it really matter? What does it change? The realities in this book are morphed into situations that are not far off from our everyday. And that's why this series is what it is. An enigma. We read it and worry... well I did. It hits a nerve and exposes what our world could be and that is a true masterpiece. Hands down I am beyond upset I sped through this the way I did the first go. This was a piece that needed to be processed and needed those seeds to be planted and grown why breaking down the secrets of the Scythes and what the Thunderhead's plan for humanity is. I missed so many things the first go because I just didn't take the time. This book gets five very well deserved stars from me. I will applaud this series over and over again. I am so sad its over.... but part of me doesn't wonder if maybe its just beginning... Call it wishful thinking.
These pages take me places and I cannot wait to see where we go next!
All my love!