The Toll by Neal Shusterman – Book Review

Reading The Toll by Neal Shusterman was a lot like racing against Usain Bolt in the Olympics.

Or at least what I imagine racing him would feel like, cause let’s be real, I’d never be in the Olympics.

What I mean is that no matter how hard I try, I simply wouldn’t be able to run fast enough.

That’s the feeling I had reading The Toll.

No matter how bad I wanted it or how hard I tried, I simply could not read The Toll fast enough. From the very first page, it was chock full of engaging narrative.

There was never a good time to stop or put the book down. I always wanted more, and basic needs such as food and sleep required me to re-engage with society.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman Book Review

The Toll Review

Wow, what to say about The Toll?

Of the three books, The Toll is certainly the one with the least amount of shock and awe type twists. I think perhaps Thunderhead was the best of the books for that.

But that isn’t to say that The Toll wasn’t without its revelations.

With each passing chapter more and more of the story unfolds and either confirms what you hoped or cleverly leads in a different direction that you’d find to be more agreeable.

In fact, nearly every turn of events is pleasing except one.

Except one.

Just one.

In the last few pages of the back.

But don’t worry, the story doesn’t end without resolving it in a pleasing way.

But that the fact that it even happened had me silently shouting at Shusterman for his genius cruelty to his characters.

Mum’s the word on any more of that.


I don’t think I can go as far as to say that I understand Goddard or that his choices have become understandable to me, because they aren’t.

He’s still a downright evil man who only cares about himself.

But The Toll does reveal a lot of information about Goddard, namely his backstory. So if you’re looking for on the myth, the man, the legend, it’s here and I think you’ll be very happy.


There’s simply not enough Citra in The Toll, but given the circumstances of how Thunderhead ended, it’s understandable.

It should be no surprise that she is revived. That was indeed the whole plan all along at the end of Book 2, so I don’t think it’s spoilery to say.

So that’s not to say that she doesn’t have sufficient page time for the story’s sake, but it’s much less than in the previous two novels.


Very early in the book it’s revealed that Greyson is the only person who can speak to the Thunderhead. This elevates him to a god-like status almost instantly.

He is called The Toll thanks to the lovely Tonists. And since the book is entitled The Toll, you can guess that the majority of the story is about Greyson.

The Tonist-centric storyline is perhaps the most disagreeable part of the whole book as I despise everything about the tonists, especially once you see what they start doing in The Toll.

It’s just straight up aggravating.

But in a good sort of a way!

Rowan and Faraday

I clumped these two together because quite honestly, they have been lost to the pages of the story. They are there. But both of them sort of take a backseat to the three characters above, and it’s quite sad.

I loved Faraday and really wish he would have had a bigger role in the story.

But it is what it is.

It all makes sense in retrospect.

Rowan appears just as you’d expect throughout the whole story. No surprises there, but it really does tie his hands a bit, quite literally, which is why he isn’t in the story all that much.

Parting Thoughts

My gosh, I loved The Toll.

I loved the whole Arc of Scythe series.

It’s very sad to see the series end. For a solid 5 minutes I dealt with the biggest book hangover.

That is until I forced myself to start the next book on my TBR.

It instantly paled in comparison and was a bit of a slog to push through at first, but my only other choice was to restart Arc of a Scythe.

And I’m not quite ready to do that, but I most definitely will be re-listening to these lovely audiobooks at some point in the not so distant future.

5/5 stars.

Looking for more reviews?

Check out my review of Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao.

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