The Toll Review

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Its hard to formulate an overall statement about whether I liked this finale or not because there were a lot of things I liked and others I didn’t. For example, I loved how we got so much more world building even though this is the third book. I really liked learning about Jeri, the scythes of Amazonia, the Lone Star Region and those of the region that used to be Africa. But, I didn’t like the ending as much as I wanted too. I was expecting a huge confrontation and that is just not what happened.
Spoiler Warning
Let’s start at the beginning. At the end of the last book, Endura sinks (an amazing climax by the way) and Rowan and Citra are trapped in the grand vault, something that ultimately saves them. I was expecting this books to pick right back up the moment they we revived and I was fooled like everyone else during the first chapter where Greyson is kidnapped and we all thought it was Rowan.
I was a bit confused during those first chapters and couldn’t keep the years straight in my head about what happened when. Citra and Rowan have always been my favorite characters as well, so the entire time we were listening from the point of anyone else my inner monologue was like “ok, ok, ok! But when are we going to see Citra and Rowan!!!”
Anyway, we finally did get to see them, but as Neal Shusterman loves to torture us readers, they were immediately separated again! I can’t take it! Can’t for once Citra and Rowan have like an hour together where their deaths aren’t imminent and they can just hang!?!? I guess not because Rowan is almost immediately captured which leads us to his eventual (almost) execution.
Now, at that point I was pretty paranoid about his fate, but I had the little indicator on my kindle telling me how far thru the book I was, to confirm the fact that it made absolutely no sense for one of the main character to die halfway thru the book. So I wasn’t too surprised he escaped, but the way in which Goddard reacted was super scary. I can’t believe he gleaned EVERYONE. I actually happened to be describing this book to a friend right after having read that part and told him ‘yeah, like 30,000 people were just murdered in the book. So, yeah…’ That was pretty weird.
One thing I didn’t like about this book though, was how much Citra didn’t do. She had like one action scene, where she was escaping that Scythe’s palace and that was it. I was a bit disappointed because it seemed like Rowan was doing all the interesting stuff.
On the topic of the relationships in this novel, I was super mad when Jeri was flirting with Citra, like really mad. I am happy he/she ended up with Greyson at the end though. One of the things I loved about the first book was Rowan’s and Citra’s relationship; they just had some great chemistry and I wanted to see more of it in the next book, but like I mentioned above they had like no time together. So, my proposition is that Neal Shusterman should write another series in the same world where we get to see Citra and Rowan together some more. Just something to think about… 😉
Overall, I liked the ending, but I’m kind of disappointed they just left the entire world behind. Especially Citra’s family. I don’t know about you guys, but Ben was one of my favorite characters in the first book and I cannot believe we didn’t get to see him one more time before the end of the book. Something that’s actually really sad to think about is that by the time Citra finally wakes up, her family might already be dead because of the founders fail-safe and she never even got to say goodbye. Come to think of it, this book is actually pretty dark.
On the topic of the fail-safe though; I loved it. It was just the perfect fail-safe. At first I was wondering what could the founders possibly have to fix everything going on but their solution was perfect. I love how it was perfectly set up in the first novels; us readers always just assumed the rings were made like that for show and it turns out not! It’s kind of the same thing with the space gleanings. We readers just agreed with what the characters told us about the space accidents and didn’t give them a second look until Citra started digging. Its super cool how Neal Shusterman had been foreshadowing what was to come all the way back in the first book.
My one big disappointment with the book was the non-confrontational ending. I hate to say it, but I kind of wanted a trope filled final battle between Goddard and Rowan and Citra, just those three. I think it would have been a really cool scene.
Overall though, I liked the book. It was a nice conclusion although it did leave a few loose ends and I now totally want Neal Shusterman to write a spin-off series. I have decided the first book is my favorite in the series, but I still liked the last two. I would recommend this novel to basically everyone!

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