Allgemein, P - T, Reviews, T

Review: The Toll (Neal Shusterman)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”A successful lie is not fueled by the liar; it is fueled by the willingness of the listener to believe. You can’t expose a lie without first shattering the will to believe it.

I can’t believe it’s over but I can definitely say that I enjoyed every single moment of this journey! Three books and I read and reviewed them all in 9 months. Considering the fact that I’m a person who usually takes ages to finish a series this says A LOT about how deeply and thoroughly I got lost in this one! I loved all those books so much and every single one of them went in an entirely different direction and was something I didn’t expect.

Usually when you read a series you have some sort of golden thread that runs through it, but in this case every book was different, every plot was unexpected and something new and even up until the last book we get introduced to new and amazing characters. It never got boring and I never knew what to expect next! To say “Arc of a Scythe” was enthralling and surprising wouldn’t even come close to the truth. And if you ask me, Neal Shusterman did a more than just amazing job at tying up all the loose ends.

“The Toll” is the last and final book of this series and even though I never thought that I could be content with its ending I had to realize that I actually am?! I mean when it comes to the last book in a trilogy I always kind of tend to find a fly in the ointment and it’s pretty rare I like and accept an ending as it is. Well, not this time around. Neal Shusterman did a great job and the ending to this series was consistent and fitting. Was I happy with everything that happened? No. But it was realistic and it stood true to the critical essence of the series. So there’s that! But enough of my general opinion about “The Toll”, let’s get down to business and head directly to my characters section! XD

2

Welcome back to my characters section, because if you read this you must have come back to read my review about the last book in this series. ;-P So I guess you know the drill! Lots of spoilers, lots of feels, lots of crying and ranting, and last but not least: lots of enthusiasm. Guess that about sums it up. ;-P

Scythe Anastasia – Citra:

”You are an excellent ass, Your Excellency.”

It was so good to see that even after three years – EXCUSE ME THREE FREAKING YEARS!?? – in the deep blue sea Scythe Anastasia still didn’t change her attitude. There was so much to take in and she had to get used to so many changes that happened while she was deadish, but she still managed to process them and decided to do something about it. Her situation was very difficult because she was supposed to be dead and then woke up in a world that had nothing to do with the one she had left before she died. If I’d have woken up in a world in which Goddard is the leader I probably would have had a mental breakdown but Citra didn’t and that made all the difference. XD I guess to have friends like Scythe Possuelo, Jeri and Scythe Tenka at her side might have helped too, but I think it was mostly due to her own strength that she came out of this okay. Scythe Curie and Scythe Faraday were good teachers and it showed in every action Citra took. =) She’s a really great character and if anyone ever deserved a new start then it’s her and Rowan. ❤

”Meu anjo?” she said. “Sydney, I’m nobody’s angel.“
“Ah, but you are,” Possuelo said.  “Because an angel is what the world needs if we are to ever bring Goddard down.”

Rowan Damisch:

”He had died so many times, and in so many ways, he was used to it. It held no more terror for him than falling asleep – which was often worse, because when he slept, he had nightmares.”

*sighs deeply* Rowan, my precious and dear Rowan. I can’t even put into words how much it hurt to read what happened to him. I mean three years dead in the ocean, and then he wakes up in some sort of prison because everyone thinks he sunk Endura, then he ends up in Goddard’s clutches again only to get saved right before his execution just in order to be used as a pawn by the Scythes of Texas!! *takes a deep breath* AJLAASDFKAJSDKFSA! And I didn’t even mention the part at the end of the book when he had to endure – wait for it – 117 FREAKING YEARS before he could be with Citra again!!! JESUS!!! Neal you did a number on my poor boy and I hated it!!! By the end of this series Rowan was so broken it killed me. T_T The only thing that makes me happy is the knowledge that he and Citra will be together for hopefully a thousand years now!!! *dies*

Greyson Tolliver:

”It should have felt good to put the curate in his place, but it didn’t. Perhaps that was why the Thunderhead had chosen him over all others; while others were corrupted by power, Greyson didn’t even like the taste of it.”

When Greyson was introduced in the second book I never thought that I’d love him so much but I do. I really do! This boy is so pure and precious! He’s probably one of the most selfless characters I ever encountered and the way he managed to maintain his innocence is nothing but astounding. After everything he went through he’s still not corrupted by power, he still knows right from wrong, he still stands up for his ideals and does what is right for humanity. Yes, he was guided by the Thunderhead but he was still his own person and this boy was beautiful from the inside and outside. ❤ I just love him! Period! XD

Then he took a deep breath and said one more time with a voice that could make mountains bow, “WHO DO YOU SERVE?”

He looked at her wistfully. “Funny, but it was never easy for me to talk to you before. Now it’s easier than talking with anyone else. I think we’ve become alike in a lot of ways.”

”The problem with painting a mural of my accomplishments,” the Toll said, “is that I haven’t actually accomplished anything.”

Jerico Soberanis:

Jeri laughed. “Yes, it can be inconvenient, but I’ve gotten used to it – embraced it, even. That unpredictability has become part of who I am.”

JERICO SOBERANIS IS THE BEST!!! Gods!!! How I wish Jeri would have been introduced way earlier in this series!!! I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Jeri so damn much!! <333 How do I even talk about Jeri without mentioning that she/he is gender fluid?! The answer is easy: I don’t!  Because it’s such an integral part of Jeri that I just have to speak about it! XD I think I was a goner the moment Jeri appeared on page and the more I read about her/him the more I adored her/him. It’s so rare, so damn rare to find an honourable, wise, beautiful, gentle and kind gender fluid MC in a book but Neal Shusterman gave Jeri room to be who she/he truly is and I’ll always be thankful for that! In a lot of ways Jeri reminded me of myself – scratch the beautiful and wise part *lol* – so I was more than just happy to have Jeri in this book! XD I just …  I loved the way Jeri thought because it’s so similar to how I think and feel and I loved her/him even more for being so content with herself/himself. It’s like Neal Shusterman got to know me and created a better version of myself on page. If that makes any sense? *lol* So yeah, Jeri’s presence alone would have made this an awesome book for me. ;-P

”People are vessels,” Jeri had said to her. “They hold whatever’s poured into them.”

”All children in Madagascar were raised genderless and forbidden to choose a gender until reaching adulthood. Even then, many didn’t choose a single state of being. Some, like Jerico, found fluidity to be their nature.”

Possuelo cursed himself for having said anything at all. “You’re too clever for your own good.”
“That,” Jeri said, “has always been my problem.”

”One of the benefits of being Madagascan is that we see people as people. When it comes to attraction, gender is never part of the equation.”

Scythe Goddard:

”Come now, I’m sure you’ve all thought about it,” he prompted. “You can’t tell me that you haven’t fantasized about doing away with one pesky group or another. And don’t say Tonists, because that’s already my choice.”

I HATE HIM WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS! *grrr* Like seriously, I couldn’t believe all those Scythes let him do what he did! He’s vain, he’s pretentious, blood-thirsty, cruel, and overall just a horrible, HORRIBLE person!!! Serves him right that he got totally paranoid and expected everyone to kill him in his sleep. The sheer nonchalance he showed when they discussed to eradicate entire ethnicities just because he didn’t like them?!! His arrogance and insolence! It’s outrageous!! I really thought I’d die when he launched those missiles at the spaceships and I was so damn glad Ayn stopped him. Boy, I don’t know what I would have done if he would have gotten away with this too. But Goddard is finally dead now and all I can say to that is: Good riddance! May he be tortured for eternity in hell.

”I want him gleaned just as much as you do. But gleaning should not be entertainment.”
To which Goddard said with an infuriating grin, “It’s entertaining to me.”

The Thunderhead:

”Painful for them, or for you?”
“Both,” the Thunderhead replied. “But my pain must not prevent me from doing the right thing.”

I’m the first one to admit that I was wrong when it came to the Thunderhead. Yes, the Thunderhead had feelings for Greyson and loved him but despite everything it never lost its way. I was so scared that it would turn against humanity but it never happened and this was something I didn’t expect?! *lol* I was so ready for everything to go to hell and for the second voice to triumph over the Thunderhead but in fact the Thunderhead only made a better version of itself. It’s as pure as Greyson and I’m glad everyone who went into space has “Cirrus” now. Still, my heart broke so much for the Thunderhead at the ending. It would have deserved better than that, yet I still understand Greyson’s decision. T_T

”The Thunderhead had no arms to embrace. Even so, it could feel the beat of Greyson’s heart and the precise temperature of his body as if it were right beside him. To lose that would be a cause of immeasurable sorrow. And so night after night, the Thunderhead silently monitored Greyson in every way it could. Because monitoring was the closest it could come to embracing.”

3

Citra & Rowan:

”No,” she said. “That’s what he does, Rowan; he draws us in, over and over – but now we have a chance to show the world not just that we don’t need the scythedom, but that we never did. This could have been our destiny, if the scythedom hadn’t prevented it – and it still can be. That’s the fight I want. Not sparring endlessly with Goddard.”

I really hoped that Neal Shusterman would be done with his star-crossed lovers trope but nopedy nope! He wasn’t! Citra and Rowan might not have had a lot of page time together in “The Toll” but the little they had made me so damn happy! I really wish they would have gotten even more time and I just wanted them to be happy, but alas Goddard had to find them and threw a monkey wrench in their plans. A HUGE one I may add. Gods, I think I died a thousand deaths with Rowan when Citra died in his arms and Cirrus told him that she would only be revived when they reached their final destination.  117 years without the person he loved and waited for his entire life. 117 freaking years… T_T That ending… Rowan’s words. I’m still a sobbing mess whenever I think about it. But they will be happy together now and to be honest that’s the only thing that makes me feel a little bit better about their cruel destiny. >_<

His smile broadens. Tears fill his eyes. They drop slowly, as if gravity itself has become less adamant, less demanding.
“When was that?” Citra asks.
“Only a moment ago,” Rowan tells her. “Only a moment ago.”

Scythe Anastasia & Jeri:

”You won’t tell me because there’s nothing I can do,” she said, anticipating the reasons Jeri would give, “and it would distract me from what I need to do.”
“Do you hate me for it?” Jeri asked.

I really adored their strong friendship!! There was so much mutual respect and understanding. Jeri guided Anastasia and helped her whenever she got lost on her way and there could have been no better friend at her side. I loved that Jeri chose to stay with Citra because she/he enjoyed her company and appreciated her as a person. She/he didn’t have to stay with her but she/he decided to do it nevertheless because Jeri could feel that Citra needed her/him. Citra needed a friend and Jeri was that friend! And that moment when Jeri died so Citra could live?!! That scene was everything! ❤ Such a precious and noble soul! To see this duo on page made me happy and even though both of them went in different directions I’m pretty sure they left a mark on each other’s souls.

”For you, Honorable Scythe Anastasia, I would die a thousand deaths at my own hand. But one will be sufficient.”

”Did you fall in love with her?” he asked.
“No,” Jeri told him. “I fell in love with the idea of falling in love with her.”

”There is opportunity in every disaster,” Jeri told her. “A ship goes down, that’s when I get excited. Because I know there are always treasures in the wreckage. Look what I found at the bottom of the sea. I found you.”

Greyson & Jerico:

”Take me, for instance; I don’t even know your name.”
“It’s … Greyson.”
Jeri smiled with the warmth of the Madagascan sun.
“Hello, Greyson.”

Okay, I know, the romance between those two was just implied but I LOVE THE IDEA OF THEM BECOMING A COUPLE!!! <333 Those two would be so perfect for each other. Like seriously! There was a moment when I was about at the middle of the book and I thought: “Hey, I really wish those two would meet! I’m sure they would hit it off.” And hit it off they did. *lol* The conversations they had!! I was such a sucker for them. So playful and funny, but also serious and gentle. XD But hey, they held hands at the end of the book so I like to believe that they became a couple in the end. Ahh! I swear I’d read an entire book just about them and their relationship! XD

”I will never understand how you binaries are so attached to your birth plumbing. Why should it matter whether a person has ovaries, or testicles, or both?”
“It doesn’t,” Greyson said, feeling a little flustered. “I mean … it does matter for some things … doesn’t it?”
“You tell me.”

”I’m sorry,” Jeri said, trying to regain some semblance of composure. “Did I hurt you?”
Greyson offered his usual guileless grin. “Not nearly enough,” he said, which made Jeri laugh.
“My, but you do have a wicked side!”

Greyson & The Thunderhead:

”I wasn’t lying; I was giving him advice.”
“Yet you didn’t wait for my input. Why?”
Greyson leaned back in his chair. “You know me better than anyone. In fact, you know everyone better than anyone, and you can’t figure out why I did it?“

Boy, to say the relationship between Greyson and the Thunderhead was complicated would be putting it mildly and I’m still not sure whether the Thunderhead loved Greyson like a mother/father or like a lover. I think the only one who could give us an answer to that would be Greyson and judging by how he reacted after the Thunderhead touched him as Jeri I think it’s safe to assume that its feelings were of a romantic nature. I mean it collapsed into his arms because it touched his cheek. Such a simple and pure gesture but all the feelings that came along with it… I could understand Jeri’s anger at being used by the Thunderhead and I could relate to Greyson’s feelings afterwards, but I still can’t help but feel devastated for the Thunderhead. And for Greyson… because no matter how right it was to cut that line, to stop being that one exception for the Thunderhead it still hurt so much! T_T Their connection was something special and because it was special they had to sever it. =(( It still breaks my heart and fills me with grief. >_<

”You are a terrible person,” the Thunderhead said. “You are a wonderful person.”
“Well, which is it?” Greyson demanded.
And the response, as faint as faint could be, came back to him – not as an answer, but as another question.
“Why can’t you see that the answer is both?”

“I broke none of my laws…”
“No … but you broke mine.”
A sudden surge of emotion welled up in Greyson. Tears began to could his eyes, reminding him how much the Thunderhead had meant, and still did mean, to him. But he could not let that stop him.
If there was anything he’d learned from the Thunderhead, it was that consequences could not be ignored.
“Therefore,” he said through his tears, “I can no longer speak to you. You are … unsavory to me.”

Rowan & Scythe Goddard:

”I have so missed these conversations with you!”
“You mean the ones where you gloat, and I’m tied up?”
“You see? The way you get to the heart of the matter is always so refreshing. So entertaining. I’d keep you as a house pet, if I didn’t fear you’d somehow escape and burn me to a crisp in my sleep.”

I think after three books in which Goddard did nothing but torture Rowan we can all agree that they are archenemies, yet I still think that Goddard appreciates Rowan somehow. Whilst Rowan would most certainly love nothing more than to finally end Goddard’s life, the same can’t be said about Goddard. He loves to gloat, he needs a purpose and for so many years to catch Rowan and to make his life miserable was his sole purpose. He antagonized Goddard more than anyone ever did and I think in a weird kind of way Goddard loved him for it. He almost seemed to be relieved when he captured him again and even though he wanted him to die, some part of him still enjoyed to toy with him and would have loved to torment him even more. They have a weird dynamic and a super dysfunctional relationship and it could only end with one of them dying. So I’m glad it was Goddard and not Rowan, because Rowan deserved so much better than he ever got!

”If only I had ignored my conscience.”
Goddard shook his head in pity. “Conscience is a tool, just like any other. If you don’t wield it, it wields you – and from what I can see, it has bludgeoned you senseless.”

Scythe Rand, Scythe Goddard & Tyger:

”Tyger,” she said, “I think I’ve made a terrible mistake.”
“Wow,” said the Tyger construct. “That sucks.”
“Yes,” said Scythe Rand. “It does.”

I would have been so ready to pay Goddard’s and Rand’s tickets to hell but apparently Neal Shusterman had other plans. I was right with my assumption that Scythe Rand would be the death of Goddard but I really didn’t expect the kind of direction it all took in the end. I mean I’m glad that Tyger is back now and even though he has Goddard’s face he still has his old body so there’s that. I really don’t know how I feel about the possibility of Ayn starting to date him and to be his future love interest though. I mean I really don’t like that woman and I loved Tyger and he deserved so much better than her!!! She killed him for crying out loud!! Yes, she’s aware that it was a mistake but she still did it and for a long time she hoped that Goddard would reciprocate her feelings which he never did. So umm… not happy with how things turned out for those two but I guess I’ll have to live with it. As long as Tyger is happy I shall be fine. >_<

”Why must I always be the victim? Why must people make it their mission to tear me down? Have I not honored the commandments and done all a scythe is sworn to do? Have I not been a unifier in troubled times?”
“Yes, Robert,” she agreed. “But we’re the ones who made the times troubled.”

”Is that how you solve every problem now?” Ayn asked. “Glean it away?”

”But she absolutely refuses to hate herself, because that would crush her, and she will never allow herself to be crushed.”

Scythe Faraday & Munira:

There were few things that truly frightened Scythe Michael Faraday. But the prospect of an incalculable unknown was high on his list of personal fears. Especially when it was presented in a particular tone of voice. The kind that usually preceded the phrase “You’d better sit down.”

Was it just me who hoped that those two would become a thing? I could have sworn that there was something between them but whatever it was; it died the moment Scythe Faraday found out about Scythe Curie and Anastasia. =( I really didn’t like the development of their relationship in here and it made me so sad to see Faraday so broken, but then again I suppose it was just too much to take. It’s kind of ironic that his two apprentices where the ones that were able to break him in the end. Still, I’m glad that he met Rowan and Citra for one last time and even more glad that he found back to his old ways. The world changed drastically after he pushed the button and it needed compassionate and kind Scythes that would help to end the suffering of people. So by the end of the book Scythe Faraday is exactly where he was always supposed to be and it helped me to make peace with him and Munira. =)

”Pouting is a passing thing,” he told her dismissively. “What I have is a mind-set. I will not suffer this world again. It has done me no good.”
“But you’ve done much good for it,” she reminded him.

His pain was like a hot poker in a block of ice, but rather than comforting him, Munira found herself hardening. And when she spoke, it was like leveling an accusation. “I expected more from you, Your Honor.”
Faraday looked away, unable to meet her gaze. “That was your mistake.”

”We are imperfect beings,” Munira said. “How could we ever fit in a perfect world?”

4

I might not have been happy with all the developments in this book but they were realistic and Neal Shusterman managed to write a great ending for an even greater series! I loved the diversity in this, all the different and new characters and everything they stood for and believed in. It was an amazing ride and I’m really sad this series is over! Let’s hope Neal will write another great series soon! XD

Allgemein, Bookish Fox Knowledge

September Wrap-Up & My 2nd Bloggiversary!

Wrap Up

What to say about September? Well, I’m kind of glad it’s over?! I think I might be repeating myself here but 2020 is the worst year ever and there are still 3 months left. Or only three months left? Let’s try to stay positive and say „only“. Yep, I think I can live with that. Anyway I’m kind of starting to feel like FitzChivalry or Rowan Damisch and the only thing that’s helping me right now is that they never gave up and sort of prevailed in the end. Sort of… let’s not think all too hard about that, okay? ;-P

So what else is new? My first month of working a couple of hours more was pretty okay I guess. I mean I noticed that I have less time for the nice things in life, but I can deal with it somehow. Or rather I can deal with it because by now there’s coffee running through my veins instead of blood? *lol* I think I’m not even kidding. ;-P I mean I’m either typing my reviews and blog posts at night (like this one at 23:00 p.m) or early in the morning. (at around 5:00 a.m) So if you do your maths you know when I sleep. (*pssst* The answer almost never. *lol*) I suppose insomnia does have its advantages after all. XD

But it wasn’t all rain this month though! There was some good news too! Both of my Give-Aways arrived savely at their destinations and as far as I could tell the winners were happy to get them! =) So there’s that! Plus: I had my second bloggiversary on September 28th and I can’t believe how far I’ve come in those last two years! ❤ It’s amazing and I really hope I’ll celebrate even more bloggiversaries with you! =)) And on this positive note I’ll just stop here and go right to my montly Wrap Up! 

Books read:(6 books &webcomic, I know 6 books is still a lot but September definitely wasn’t my best month this year)

Pages read:  2.298 (3 of those 6 books were actually pretty long! *lol*)

Average rating: 4,17 (One 5 stars book and it was amazing!! ❤ The rest wasn’t bad either as well. XD)

Books that were on my reading list:  1 (from 2019 and 0 from 2020. <_< I think I’ll just ignore this section. Just kidding. I’m currently reading at least 3 books that are on my 2020 list, but they are HUGE and I started too late!)

September Reads:

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38470248   44771022. sy475     43514655. sy475
 
A Charm of Finches: 5 Pfoten
 
I LOVED this book so much I couldn’t even put it into words. Of course I tried, but I think I failed miserably. XD Guess as long as Suanne doesn’t hold it against me that’s okay for me though. But seriously, if you haven’t discovered Suanne’s books already, you definitely should make sure to take a closer look! They are awesome, they are beautiful, her stories are unique and taken from life and there are so many thoughts that go into them that it’s just overwhelming! ❤ If you actually want to read my attempt at a proper review you can do it here!
Defy Me: 4 Pfoten
 
I don’t know if I like that series or if I don’t. I mean I loved the original trilogy! It will always hold a special place in my heart, but those last two books including „Defy Me“. I just don’t know. I think the series steered off course and right now nothing makes sense anymore. The characters are reacting to crazy happenings but that’s about all they do. I mean I love every second I’m able to spend with my favourite characters, yet at the same time I can’t help but wonder where this is heading. If you want to hear all of my confused thoughts you can read my full review here!
 
 
It’s been a while I read a fantasy book with so many different nations and creatures but it was a lot of fun to dive back into the fantasy fold. *lol* This was a review copy I got from the author in exchange for an honest review and it was a really great one indeed! I thought it would be more on the funny side and even though some parts of it were a lot of fun to read, it still tackled surprisingly serious topics. So this was totally unexpected and I kind of found myself paging through it. XD 
Catwoman: 4 Pfoten
 
We all know Maas can write! What I didn’t know up until I read this book was the fact that she can actually write convincing lesbian characters. I went into this expecting the typical Maas brand but what I got was so much more and this made me really happy! We have a lesbian MC, a bi MC, a super slow burn that doesn’t end in mind-blowing intimacy and I was like: OMG is this actually a Maas book?! „Catwoman“ was a real surprise and I hope Maas will continue to write books like this one! So damn good! =))
 
The Toll: 4 Pfoten
 
Neal Shusterman did something not many authors manage to do: He wrote a great ending to an amazing series! Sure, there were some things I didn’t like, but in general I’ve to say that he wrapped it up nicely with a bow. XD And even after two books he introduced us to new characters that were awesome and turned my world upside down! ❤ All I’ll say is Jerico Soberanis! She/he owns my heart!! As does Greyson! And Rowan and Citra and so many others. *lol* You get the idea. ;-P Legit one of the best series I ever read. 
 
 
I love Kenji’s POV and this short novella was once again such a pleasure to read. =) Plus I loved all the things that were confronted in this. Kenji isn’t just a funny character, he’s also a deep character with a lot of thoughts and feelings and an intelligent mind to sort through everything that happens. I can’t wait to see more of his POV in „Imagine Me“ and I really hope that things will make more sense in this last book! XD Please Tahereh turn this thing around! 

Rankenzeile

So how was your September? Are you ready to finish the chapter of 2020, too? Did you read a lot of books and are you looking forward to spooky October? Do you have any book recommendations for scaredy cats foxes like me? When do you usually write your blog posts and did you already celebrate your second bloggiversary?! And if yes: How? XD

Talk to me and let me know! 😉

*hugs’n’kisses*

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The Sassy Library Fox