The Toll Review

  • Author: Neal Shusterman
  • Series: Arc of a Sycthe #3
  • No. of pages: 625
  • Dates read: 28.12.19 – 02.01.20
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Challenge: 2020 Sequels

My first review of the new year! And thankfully it was a good one!

Plot: 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.

Ok. So. So much happened!!!! Stuff I loved, stuff I’m not so sure about. But some BOLD moves were made today my friends! Neal Shusterman did not come to play!

One of my favourite additions to the series was Jerico! Jerico was (I believe) the series first gender-fluid/non-binary character. And let me tell you how refreshing it was to read! I have to be honest here, I don’t think I have read a book where the character specifically talks about their gender in length the way Jerico does. I don’t think I have read a story with a specific non-binary character, at least not to my knowledge. So I was super happy to read about Jerico and I just fell in love with them as a character! I don’t know if the representation was done incredibly well but I thought it came across as respectful, but let me know if I am wrong here.

One of my other favourite parts of the story was seeing how the world responded to the Thunderhead’s silence. It eerily reminded me of how we as a society might be if we didn’t have the internet, it felt like an episode of Black Mirror. The way Shusterman wrote the hopelessness, the loss and the desperation of the populace was amazing!

This leads me to my next point, the world-building (as per) is amazing. I loved watching slowly the descent of the world from utopian heaven to an outright dystopian. We really get a sense of the world crumbling. I felt this the most when reading the excerpts of Goddard’s speeches, which you get between chapters, you see him slowly gain more and more power and it’s frankly horrifying.

What also added to the world-building was the multiple POV’s and getting to know characters we haven’t met and continue the journey with characters we already know. The multiple POV’s allowed us to see the world and the political climate as a whole. We saw a variety of characters and it just painted a better picture for the reader.

Going into this book I was worried that I would struggle to get back into the world but the reading is super easy and accessible and I found myself flying through it. Shusterman was a master when it came to writing scenes of chaos and panic. I found that my heart was racing throughout these scenes.

I also loved the author commentary at the end where Shusterman gives his thoughts on writing each chapter. That definitely makes me want to re-read this book again alongside the commentary.

One thing I will say is I personally was not the biggest fan of the direction of the ending. It was not horrible in the slightest and I didn’t hate it, it was very bold and he took a risk and personally for me I didn’t love it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book but the only reason it isn’t 5 stars is because of the ending.

The next book I will be reviewing is Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I originally DNF’d this book but I am hoping on giving it another chance!!

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