The Toll

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Scythe | Thunderhead

The Toll was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2019. It forms the final part of the Arc of a Scythe Trilogy, now set in a grim world where life and death are controlled by one power-hungry psychopath. The novel follows on directly from where Scythe (2016) and Thunderhead (2018) left off, so I would recommend reading these novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

In the wake of the great tragedy of Endura, the world has rapidly changed for the worst. Thunderhead has gone silent, declaring everyone except for Greyson Tolliver as unsavoury. Any supporter of Scythe Curie has either gone to ground or been culled. Citra is missing and presumed dead. Scythe Goddard has declared himself as the first Overscythe and taken to revising the governing rules of the Scythes, removing gleaning quotas and permitting Scythes to act on their personal prejudices towards certain races or religious groups.

The only hope for the world lies with Faraday and Munira, who have headed deep into Thunderhead’s blind spot to find the legendary fail-safe – something with the power to put an end to the Scythes. However, when they find themselves marooned on the island with no way of activating the fail-safe, it seems that any chance of stopping Goddard is lost. Fortunately, Thunderhead has not given up on them. Within weeks, boats of workers also start to dock on the remote atoll. They have been instructed to build something huge – something that could save the human race. Trouble is, no one knows what it is.

On the other side of the world, several other groups work tirelessly to stop Goddard. A salvage crew rescue Citra from the ruins of Endura and use her as a mouthpiece to reveal Goddard’s crimes, and Greyson re-imagines himself as the Toll – the chosen prophet who can unite the Tonists against their enemies. Yet will they be enough to stop Goddard when 80% of Scythes in America support his regime?

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Thunderhead

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Scythe. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Thunderhead was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2018. It follows the continuing story of Citra and Rowan – two youths who live in a world where humans are functionally immortal and the population is controlled by an order who are known as the Scythes. The book forms the second part of the Arc of a Scythe series and follows Scythe (2016). At the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Ever since she passed her trial, Citra has struggled with leaving her past behind. Although she is now a true Scythe, it is hard to think of herself as being Scythe Anastasia rather than the girl that she once was. Her revolutionary gleaning method has also been drawing the attention of her fellows. Her decision of letting her victims choose the terms of their death is unheard of, and the order is divided on whether or not they support this. While Citra is initially unconcerned about their opinions, her view changes when an attempt is made on her life. Someone has noticed how influential Citra is becoming and will stop at nothing to silence her forever.

Meanwhile, Rowan now walks a different path. He has taken Goddard’s ring and now operates from the shadows as Scythe Lucifer. His targets are those Scythes who abuse their power – the ones that kill for sport or deliberately target racial minorities. While the Scythes initially struggle to stop him, matters change when Rowan finds himself captured and at the mercy of a Scythe with a horrifying agenda. His captor is about to put a terrible plan in motion, but first they wish for Rowan to suffer.

It’s clear that the world is in a state of flux and not necessarily for the better. Although the Thunderhead – the AI that controls most of the world – can see the coming storm, it is powerless to directly do anything to stop it. The best it can do is manipulate certain key players into positions where the can make a difference, although in doing so it puts them in grave danger. Meanwhile, Faraday may also have found something that could change the course of history – a legendary city, hidden from both the Thunderhead and Scythes alike. However, travelling there is unspeakably dangerous. One slip up and he will likely find himself permanently dead…

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Scythe

scythe

Scythe was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2016. It’s a science fiction novel with horror elements that is set in a world where humans have conquered death and old age. The book forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

There is no one alive who remembers the Age of Mortality – the time when the world was dangerous and the tiniest slip could result in death. People now have the power to live forever, resetting back as far as their early twenties whenever they felt the touch of old age. However, death is required in order to keep down the population. The service is performed by the Scythes – an order of men and women who are permitted to “glean” the chosen – taking their life for the good of all.

When there becomes a need for more Scythes to be ordained, Honourable Scythe Faraday takes it upon himself to train two apprentices – Citra and Rowan. Both of the teenagers are taken from different walks of life and neither is keen to don the cloak and ring of Scythe. Yet this is for the best. Faraday believes that a good Scythe is one that does not want to burden. A Scythe that enjoys killing is nothing more than a mmurderer.

Yet taking on two apprentices is unheard of and not all of Faraday’s colleagues are impressed. It is decided that only one of his students is to become a Scythe and their first task will be to glean the loser. Citra and Rowan began their apprenticeship as allies but soon find themselves as rivals, torn between their friendship and desire to survive…

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