cover image The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3)

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3)

Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (640p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9706-0

When Citra and Rowan are discovered preserved in the wreckage of Endura, three years after the events of Thunderhead, they awaken to find that megalomaniacal Scythe Goddard is now Overblade of all North Merica and is consolidating power worldwide. Citra must convince the world of Goddard’s villainy, while Rowan, universally despised as the destroyer of Endura, must simply survive. Meanwhile, Greyson Tolliver, the only human to whom the nearly omnipotent AI known as the Thunderhead will talk, has become the Toll, spiritual leader to the oppressed Tonist religion, as the Thunderhead secretly works to build something game-changing on the remote Marshall Atolls. Some previously central characters, particularly Rowan, take on smaller roles, while others, including Greyson and a hypercompetent, genderfluid sea captain named Jerico Soberanis, are given space to charm. The stellar conclusion to Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy is a gripping adventure that never stops building momentum as it refocuses the books on a grander scale. With a surprising amount of humor for the large body count, it elevates and deepens the series with a gently optimistic examination of the fine human line between utopia and dystopia. Ages 12–up. (Nov.) Correction: A previous version of this review misstated the name of Scythe Goddard's character.