Book Review | The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman

TitleThe Toll

By: Neal Shusterman

Series: Arc of a Scythe #3

Pages: 652

PublishedNovember 5th, 2019

By: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult – Dystopia – SciFiFantasy

Buy it: Book Depository | Amazon

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.

| Goodreads |

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 🌿 Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

 🌿 Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman

“You can’t expose a lie without first shattering the will to believe it. That is why leading people to truth is so much more effective than merely telling them.”

I really enjoyed this conclusion to the trilogy, I still can’t believe it’s over, though, it was a wonderful journey and I’m SO happy to have read all the books. I think that despite the fact that this ending is over-informative at times, this is a very solid book that has incredible factors, such as impact scenes and unexpected revelations, but it also has a very special vibe that the author has managed to maintain throughout the trilogy, which makes you feel immersed in the story, almost like an intense realism that makes you want to continue reading. I love it and I’m very pleased with the ending!

In this third and final part we follow the events three years after “Thunderhead”, with Rowan and Citra missing, Goddard in power & a Thunderhead closed to everyone except Grayson. I don’t want to give much more information just in case because I think that being the third book is very simple to make spoilers, but this is more or less the world we find when we start reading The Toll.

I think this conclusion is expressed in the best Neal Shusterman style, with a lot of information that we knew to refresh our memory a bit, but also with a lot of new information, I think that what the author tries to do is cover us with knowledge about this dystopian world and especially with its history itself. We know a lot about how everything was in the beginning after humanity reached their higher level and conquers even death, and how it has evolved until the very change that has occurred within Thunderhead. I think he discusses in a very intelligent way what means to be human and the meaning of technologyTill when is it okay to use it? or What meaning does life have if you’re not aware of the dangers and death itself as something that you cannot recover yourself from?. All these topics that touch the human conscience and especially the awakened conscience of Thunderhead seemed brilliant to me, it’s a fascinating discussion to have in a dystopian world apparently perfect like this one.

I think that as I mentioned before, it can be somewhat dense at times since it gives us too much information and hundreds of different points of views, but even so, I think that everything has a clear objective and even though I’m not the biggest fan of over-descriptive plots, I think that this time it has managed to give more seriousness and depth to the plot. At times I was confused as to how certain chapters or certain Scythes’ diaries could be functional for what was happening, but the construction of the book and the level of work that is put into it makes you realize that nothing is left to chance and everything has a certain purpose.


The writing style is heavy, I’ll not lie, or at least it has been for me, but even so, the author is very intelligent and knows how to create the perfect environment that makes you anticipate everything that’s going to happen with more emotions, this way when you get to the main objective or the climax of the plot everything is more special and exciting. Also, the atmosphere is captured very well and makes things look beautiful in a dangerous way, which I’ve recognized in several scenes, scenes full of colors and life where terrible things happen, I think that’s a very unique way of telling a story.

“We’re exploring the possibility of building a wall to stem the exodus.” “Don’t be ridiculous,” Goddard said. “Only idiots build walls.”

One detail that I like a lot about this book is how portrays each character in a crude and real way, showing their weaknesses as well as their strengths, I don’t think there’s a character in this story that’s completely noble or completely evil. The book plays a lot with gray tones and that deserves my respect since it’s not something easy to do with so many characters. The characters, in general, I loved all of them, but you know my favorites will always be CitraRowan & Faraday, and even in this book, they continue to be, although I confess that I’d have liked to see MORE of Citra and Rowan, not only them together which we hardly have the pleasure of seeing but as individuals. I know this book is about giving proper closure to a highly political and intricate plot, so we should focus on other characters like Goddard and his entourage, as well as Grayson and his people as well. But we also meet new characters who contribute a lot to the plot like Jeri, whom I’ve come to love and even admire. The power behind each character even in the secondary and tertiary is wonderful, and to see how although you think that at the beginning they’ll not make any sense, then they have all the weight on situations extremely important for the movement and the ending of the plot, and I LOVE THAT.

I could really talk about the characters forever, and I probably will on my blog, like a hundred times lol, but I don’t want to make this a never-ending review. Even so, I want to highlight again how rich this book is in characters, and I feel that a piece of my heart will always stay with each one of them, seeing them grow through the years has been an honor and a pleasure. EVERYONE has evolved for both good and bad, but they have, and it’s remarkable. *I LOVE FARADAY FOREVER* (I already miss him) There’s something the author does in his books, but in this one, you can see much more, and it’s to create the anticipation hunger with the individual story of each character, so when two main characters came together was even more powerful and impactful. Although it frustrates me not to have seen more interactions between some of them when the meeting happens I cannot deny that it’s pure magic.


What can I say about the world that I haven’t already said in previous reviews, right? Simply incredible, it’s undoubtedly one of the most complete and unique, as well as one of the best created, thought out, and executed worlds that I’ve read in my life. The use of technology in situations that are even similar to “Game of Thrones” at times it’s brilliant to me, the immensity of the places described and how they come to life in front of your eyes is a unique experience. I couldn’t recommend this dystopian world enough, even if dystopia isn’t a genre you’re very fond of, because this time it’s worth it.

On the other hand, the discussion about human consciousness and the hunger for power is incredible. It’s extremely interesting to read how a seemingly perfect society, where everything has already been solved by a superior artificial mind falls apart anyway from the greed of man. Absolutely brilliant! Seeing in front of my eyes how human beings destroy everything that their ancestors have managed to build just out for power and different religious opinions, is hard but also extremely real. But on the other hand, there’s a part that’s a bit more bright that talks about the Scythes and their commitment to their own duty, and how this evolves is very interesting, and although there’s a lot of darkness, there’s always a bit of hope and there are those who follow doing things well, with respect and humanity.

“We never know what choices will lead to defining moments in our lives. A glance to the left instead of right could define who we meet and who passes us by. Our life path can be determined by a single phone call we make, or neglect to make.”

SO interesting, you guys, I don’t think I’m capable of putting all my feelings together right now and putting them into words, but this is a certain deep story with hundreds of nuances, and I think that even though I love each of the books, there’s a higher evolution towards the end as for the characters and especially to the plot, since darker and more morally problematic themes are played. I LOVE the trilogy & the ending of this book is heartbreaking in a million different ways, Did I cry? YES, and I feel that I can still feel something in my belly when I think about it, I think all the events are as inspiring as they’re hard to assimilate, and all that combined with the nostalgia of knowing that I no longer read about my babies, made me feel extremely sensitive lol. In short, LOVED THE ENDING, and that it will not be like that for everyone, but I personally think it’s almost poetic, and I adored that sweet feeling of not knowing more, you know? which may be upsetting for other readers, but for me, it was a beautiful ending full of hope and meaning beyond words. * silently loving Rowan and Citra forever *

Needless to say, of course, I recommend this trilogy literally to any person in this world who wants to be impressed. I think if you enjoy sci-fi elements like high technology and artificial intelligence on earth then this book is for you. In addition, I also recommend it if you generally like to explore human psychology and man’s consciousness, their deep fears, and greed as well as their weaknesses and dreams. It’s also a trilogy with many plot twists, so without a doubt, you’ll be surprised more than once, as well as you’ll also be able to witness scenes of a lot of action and impact. Finally, I also recommend it if you like dystopian worlds and want something more unique and original, this is perfect since you’ll be able to know a society that has even overcome death and you’ll be able to see how everything falls apart and rises again in front of your eyes. An extraordinary work by the author and I’m dying to read more by him!


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31 thoughts on “Book Review | The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman

  1. I read this trilogy last year and I totally share your thoughts! I think that sometimes things were a bit heavy, a bit over explained. All in all though I did really enjoy the books and found the The Thunderhead to be the best of the bunch. I remember reading that one right into the early hours of the morning because I just had to see how it ended and I couldn’t sleep for thinking about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m SO glad that we share thoughts about it!! ❤️ don’t think this is the most solid book in the trilogy, I’ll always have a special affection for Scythe, but Thunderhead is definitely brilliant too, THAT ENDING destroyed my heart! so I feel you 🥺🥺🥺

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  2. I’m planning to start this series this year. It’s been there on my TBR for a long time and the synopsis for Book 1 was so intriguing. I’ve been following your reviews for this series and they have added more to my anticipation factor. Great Review!! I can’t wait to read this book.

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  3. This is really interesting because I can’t stand the ending of the toll. I feel like Citra and Rowan just run away from all their problems after everything. And most of the romance in this book is so forced as the characters never had a chance to be together and for the romance to develop. Anyways, I’m glad that you liked the book but here is my opinion on it!

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    • I LOVE to know your point of view and in a way I agree, I think the author should give the characters more time together and not just at the end, you know? it certainly would have worked much better. 👏🏻👏🏻 I like the ending, though, but I understand your point, that’s why I think it won’t work for everyone, that’s for sure 😊


  4. ahh this is such a beautifully written and fantastic review, Sofii!! i agree with so many of your thoughts. i thought that Neal Shusterman did a brilliant job of crafting such complex storylines – everything became clear and came together in the end so beautifully – my mind was blown 🤯 this book (and series) truly made me reflect + think so much about humanity, mortality, and how a seemingly perfect utopia can fall apart due to human greed and selfishness, as you said. i also love Faraday and wish we saw more of Citra and Rowan :’) overall, definitely an absolutely phenomenal series and i can’t wait to reread it again (hehe i already reread it once in 2020) 🤩 again, great review!! 😊

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    • Aww, honey!! Thank you SO much, you’re really sweet 🥺🥺✨ and it makes me happy that you liked my review, I feel like I had a lot of feelings when I wrote it 😅 Absolutely!!! 👏🏻 I think the same, I think that in addition to being a super complete and wonderful series in terms of world, ideas and characters, it leaves you thinking and that’s always an incredible plus that a story can give you! 😍
      OMG, I love those characters so much, they’re my babies forever, I’ll surely be re-reading it too in a while just to see Rowan and Citra in their beginnings and feel all emotional 😭😭❤️❤️❤️

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  5. I loved this book and agree that it’s such an interesting and complex world. I loved how The Toll focused so much on the world and it isn’t until this book that you really see the full scope of the world that the author has created, it’s so fascinating. This is a great review!

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  6. This is such a lovely review. Thank you so much for writing this! A friend recommended books from Neal Shusterman to me a while back and after reading the Scythe trilogy and Dry, he became one of my favorite authors! I agree with the many points you made, how it was over-informative at times in particular. But I think his way of describing and crafting a world to remember makes up for it from beginning to end. The characters resonated with me as well and they kept me at the edge of my seat, wondering how they are going to survive in these circumstances. Again, keep these reviews up! You’re doing great! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you SO much!!! I’m so glad you read the author and liked it, I’d love to read Dry at some point, it sounds amazing! 🥰✨ & I’m glad that we shared thoughts about the trilogy and this book, I enjoyed the journey so much, and now I’m sure I missed the characters, I also cared so much about them, they deserve to be happy. 😍
      Thank you SO much again, and thank you for your comment as well ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Omg I ADORE your mood board so much Sofii!! I haven’t read this series, not sure if I will because it doesn’t sound exactly up my alley (and my gut is usually right) but it sounds really interesting haha. Loved this review xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman is my selection for this one because this year I’ve finished with this trilogy and you know already, because I’ve mentioned it too many times, that I love this trilogy, it’s one of my faves, so of course I loved the conclusion. As the author is used to in this series it has a lot of characters going through super challenging situations in a conclusion that leaves you in shock all the time, almost holding your breath while reading it. Obviously there’s not much I can comment on because it’s a very long story where a million things happen, so I invite you to read the first book, Scythe, which is simply brilliant, one of the most unique and well thought out dystopian worlds I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. […]


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