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Book Review: The Toll by Neal Schusterman

Title: The Toll

Author: Neal Schusterman

Series: Arc of the Scythe

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: 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. (Shortest Summary Ever) -Goodreads

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The Review:

The Toll was a decent ending to one of the better YA series I’ve read.

The series had a consistent and solid writing voice. It reminded me strongly of James S.A. Corey’s writing style in the popular adult sci-fi series, The Expanse. It’s a way of combining character introspection and broad implications in a way that’s kind of telly vs showy but somehow you don’t care because it’s so fluidly done. It made for a story that was easy to breeze through.

I’ve mentioned this at length in my reviews of the first two books, but I love the concept for this series. Particularly the moral debate each Scythe has to have with themselves when deciding who to “glean” (kill) and why. It was fascinating. Events in the Toll broadened the ideas even more by focusing on the power, corruption, and the mentality of “do I conform even though it’s against my moral compass and maybe survive another day, or do I stand my ground and perish as if my sacrifice has no real meaning in the grand scheme of things?”

Good food for thought.

It’s worth noting that my rating probably would’ve been slightly higher had I started this book sooner, as time and distance from the second book had me forgetting some of the minor characters. When I wait too long, I lose a bit of context and depth, and therefore my connection to the story. And my ratings pay the price. It didn’t suffer much, but it was still a factor.

Overall, I’m glad I read this series and I’m looking forward to the new collection of stories that came out in November (Gleanings).

Recommendations: one of the better YA series I’ve read. Pick this one up for cool concepts, a great writing style, and a distinct lack of the usual YA tropes. This series is worth a looksie.

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