YA Review: The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3)

Title: The Toll
Author: Neal Shusterman
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5

I’ve been waiting for the third and final book in the Arc of a Scythe series for twelve months, so when I heard there were copies in Waterstones I threw on my coat and went out in the rain to buy one! Thunderhead, book two in the series, ended on a serious cliffhanger, so I wasn’t going to wait to find out what happened next.

The Toll is a larger book than its predecessors, and there are plenty of plot twists packed into its pages. The book continues the story of the Scythes, the only people licensed to kill in a society where no one dies. The Scythedom was set up to manage the population in a post-mortal world, but with the balance of power shifting and new-order Scythes taking a little too much pleasure in ending lives, The Toll explores the ethics of death, dying, and post-mortality.

Following on from book two, the god-like point-of-view character plays a major role in The Toll, interacting with one character in particular, and struggling to overcome its own programming. At the same time, the Scythedom is trying to come to terms with the new-order Scythes and their actions, and looking for other ways to achieve the same ends. The cliffhanger from the previous book is resolved, but the characters are almost immediately thrown back into danger. It feels as if everyone is trying to change the world – but no two groups are aiming for the same outcome.

The scene is set for games of cat-and-mouse, and power struggles on a truly global scale. There’s excitement and scandal, world-changing discoveries and crushing tragedies, and an ending that I didn’t see coming.

I’m still not sure what I think of this series. I didn’t like the characters at the start of Scythe. I didn’t like the setting or the scenario. But I have enjoyed the plot, and the way the author uses his post-mortal society to examine the corrupting influence of power, the ethical dilemmas of a god-like character, and the injustice of death and dying. It’s an interesting read, but be warned: the book two cliffhanger really is painful!

Have you read the Arc of a Scythe trilogy? How long did you have to wait to find out what happened after the end of Thunderhead? And what did you think of the ending? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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