My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Overall this was a disappointing closure to the trilogy given how amazing I thought book 1 and 2 were. I had hoped for more. Defining what that 'more' is however, is kind of difficult. As though I wasn't sure what I wanted; but I know this isn't it. For the record, this is an awful thing to say to artist and is not helpful feedback at all. However it is how I feel right now. Maybe breaking this down will help give some definition to my let down feeling.
Whether intentional or not Neal Shusterman has created a dictator that reminds me of Donald Trump in Goddard. I don't think this was an intentional choice per say, it is just reflective of worldwide politics right now and how there is a massive power struggle going on. We keep seeing examples of the dictatorship model to the communist model. Of course in reality, as with Goddard, everything falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes there are certainly leanings certain ways. I was a bit disappointed that Goddard was used as a pawn in the story and felt less human, even after that one big twist.
"Language means what they choose; dictionary be damned."
One of my favourite things about the previous two books were the journal entries of book 1 or the Thunderhead's internal commentary at the beginning of the chapters. In The Toll Shusterman gives us snippets of future civilizations discovering elements or relics of the one we are currently experiencing. And of course, they inevitably assume certain things and get it wrong. I of love this because it shows how often we are likely to have misinterpreted ancient history or relics. These snippets remain one of my favourite parts of this series.
As expected there are a number of twists and turns that we encounter in The Toll. Some more obvious than others. Unfortunately there also seems to be a lot of filler. I didn't really need to experience certain aspects of the discovery of an island, or what some of the side characters were up to. I missed more of our two MC's. I really just wanted Scythe Anastasia and Scythe Lucifer and their direct narrative. I would have been fine with discovering many of the events that happen through their eyes; instead of experiencing the event through a minor characters eyes and then again glazing over it as our MCs encounter the scenario. It just felt unnecessary and made me bored overall.
Important work often loses the spotlight to self-important people"
I could see this series having a large impact on younger reads. Those who perhaps haven't seen as much history unfold, understand politics in-depth (and how they are really just human nature), or encountered a truly persuasive person, may find the concepts in The Toll hold more impact than those of us who are older. This is entirely appropriate, given this is YA/teen book. I wish I had had this series to read when I was a teen; but alas at 37 I'm perhaps too jaded to really buy into many of the concepts presented here.
While not a 'bad' book, it's certain not the ending I was hoping for with a series that I loved this much. Perhaps it was ultimately too predictable of an ending, or Shusterman just lost track of who his 'MC' amoungst all the events happening. Either way it wasn't enough for me and didn't live up to my love of the first two books.
I would still recommend this series to many people; but with a caveat that third book is not as strong as the rest.
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