Pel Mel Critics’ Corner

Book Review: THE TOLL

Pel Mel Critics’ Corner


Katie D'Angelo, Staff Reporter, Junior

Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy. On November 4, Shusterman released The Toll, the final book in the chilling series. In the two preceding novels, Shusterman paints a world with no hunger, no disease, no war, and no misery as humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now, people that work as Scythes choose who lives and dies to control the population. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice a scythe (a role that neither wants). These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. The sequel digs into their lives a year after their training, and at this time Goddard (a Scythe) has taken over and corruption and evil ensue.

This highly anticipated finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy, dictators, prophets, and tensions rise. In a world that’s conquered death, will humanity finally be torn asunder by the immortal beings it created? Will The Toll answer these questions?

In the last and final book, Citra and Rowan have disappeared. Endura, the country that held the entire Head Assembly of the Scythedom, is gone–and now Goddard is the supreme leader. With this dictatorship and censorship, the people are seen rebelling and trying to fight back. But will they achieve success?

While reading this book, I found myself not wanting to put it down. Even though the book was over 600 pages, I finished it in two days. The constant action and excitement in each page, which was also filled with mystery and marvel, made it my favorite series by far.

Shusterman is a genius with how he weaves each of the characters, old and new, and having their paths flirt with each other until they finally intertwine. There are many moving parts to the conclusion of this series that it feels like the reader is watching a puzzle being completed, with each piece slowing and finding its home until the final result is realized. Everything is masterfully done that one can’t help but praise the language.

While most readers were satisfied by the ending, some were left feeling as if the story was not complete. It left them with more questions than answers. However, that is the brilliant thing about Shusterman: his ambiguity. He leaves you, the reader, choosing what to believe or think. Nonetheless, Shusterman’s latest release was the best in the trilogy by far. It combined all aspects that readers loved in the first two, remarkable storytelling, plot twists, and sense of urgency and excitement. While some believe it was an unsatisfying ending, The Toll was a great finish to The Arc of a Scythe trilogy.

Shusterman created a remarkable world that he masterfully tied up with The Toll, which provided an ending that all of the readers will find satisfying.