A review by houseoflusos
The Toll by Neal Shusterman


Well, I am... underwhelmed. Scythe and Thunderhead were both incredible 5-stars read for me, I loved everything in them, but The Toll felt so different from the first two books.

The pacing of this book was incredibly slow. The ending of book 2 was so intense that I immediately picked up book 3, but the first half of this book is basically people walking around and talking, nothing much happens really. The bad guy in this book raises to power but you can't really understand why everyone is so okay with it, and although I can see what the author was going for, the execution was pretty bad.

A new character is also introduced in this book, Jeri, and wow. This character is the definition of tokenism, I cannot believe Shusterman wasted so much time on this character and the concept of gender-fluidity that was never mentioned in the first two books. The dialogue this character has with all the main characters is (and I usually hate this word) cringe. So many times, the fact that he is gender fluid, is brought by the characters, Jeri also drops a "you binaries are so ..." a few times before explaining how the gender of people from Madagascar depends on the weather, I mean okay? It wouldn't have bothered me if was just something mentioned in passing, but this book is already slow, the fact that this character and their gender-fluidity take so much space made it just annoying to read.

The ending, though satisfying for the overall series was also underwhelming (at least comparing with the endings of book 1 and 2). The bad guy is betrayed, just in time so he can't kill the main characters and that felt like a big plot convenience, especially he had already been betrayed by the same character before, when he had one of the main characters in book 2. It was so disappointing.

Overall I'm giving this a 3.5 stars, because it concludes a series that I absolutely loved with books 2 and 3, and because the main characters are still great despite the flaws of this book.