The Toll by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.
In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.
The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)Review:
I honestly don’t even know where to start for this review. I loved this book so much. I was scared about two-thirds of the way through that so much was happening that the ending would be rushed, but that was not the case at all. Everything just came together for a perfect ending. What do I even say about this book?
There is so much going on in this story, so many pieces that need to come together. I’m beyond happy to be able to say that Neal brought these pieces together flawlessly. All the storylines slowly made their way toward one another and the suspense almost killed me. I was dying to know what was going on with the characters I wasn’t reading about, but I also couldn’t get enough of whoever I was currently reading about. I just couldn’t get enough period.
I loved Citra and the way her story played out. I loved seeing her fulfill the role that the Thunderhead shared with her. She was hugely influential and blew the lid off some very well-hidden information.
Then there’s Rowan, I really didn’t care about him in this book. He has captured the whole book and went from one group to another, being told what told to do and taken by someone else where they told him what to do too. I just didn’t care about any of it.
Greyson Tolliver was the second most interesting storyline. After becoming this hugely important symbol to the world, he’s realized that some things are not as important as he used to think. He’s made relationships and realized which ones he wants to keep and not. I think Greyson’s growth was the most significant and the most interesting.
My favorite parts of this book were the parts with Faraday on the islands. I was dying to get back to his parts to see what was going on in the blind spot. The suspense of only getting tiny bits of what was going on there killed me.
I am so impressed with Neal’s ability to create characters. Our villain, Goddard, was horrible and awful in every way, but I still found myself agreeing with some of his ideas. If I lived in this world, I think I could easily have been swayed to Goddard’s side of things even though he’s a horrible man.
Finally, Jerico. I think Jeri was my favorite character. They were just so casual in their gender fluidity and I loved it. I thought the way they identified was beautiful and poetic and exactly what the real world should be like. I loved the addition of Jeri to the story.
Overall, I loved this book and everything about it. They writing was incredible. The messages it sends and the conversations it invites are just such important ones. It brings up the morality of mortality. The conversation of what it means to take a life. Artificial intelligence and how much power they should have. I just loved this book and the entire series.

Quotes:

“We never know what choices will lead to defining moments in our lives.”

“It was not exactly circular logic. More like spiral. An accepted lie that spun in upon itself until truth and fiction disappeared into a singularity of who the hell cares, as long as I’m happy?”

“But the truth is, power for power’s sake is a consuming addiction. He would devour the world whole, and still be unsatisfied.”

“Important work often loses the spotlight to important people.”

“The tales we hear as children—the stories we then pass on—have happened, are happening, or will happen soon enough. If not, then the stories would not exist. They resonate in our hearts because they are true. Even the ones that begin as lies.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the chilling sequel to the Printz Honor Book Scythe from New York Times bestseller Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.
The Thunderhead cannot interfere in the affairs of the Scythedom. All it can do is observe—it does not like what it sees.
A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.
As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.
Will the Thunderhead intervene?
Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel?
Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2)Review:
I AM SO MAD AT NEAL SHUSTERMAN FOR THE FINAL PAGES OF THIS BOOK.
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let’s talk about Thunderhead. As I mentioned in my review for Scythe, I am rereading the first two books before picking up the final book that has recently come out, The Toll. It’s taking everything in me to actually sit and write this review before picking it up. Especially with the way Thunderhead ended.
Let’s get into the review. I really liked that we get to see so many of the different characters and all of the things they are doing. There is a certain character that I can’t name that spends a bit of time at the reconstructed Library of Alexandria and those were some of my favorite parts. The mystery they are trying to solve was fascinating. Then there’s Citra who is now Scythe Anastasia. I really enjoyed seeing her gleaning method and standing up to the other scythes when confronted. I think her journey into going from Citra to accepting herself at Scythe Anastasia was very compelling. Then there’s Rowan. I liked the first part of his storyline in this book. But then things get weird. I did not like the twist. But that’s more because this particular villain is just despicable and I hate him.
The world is still being built up and I enjoyed learning more about it. I liked that things were explained as what they used to be. Places like Washington, DC, the St. Louis Arch, are all named and how they came to be what they are now was beyond interesting to me.
Finally, the Thunderhead. In the first book, we’re given scythe journal excerpts in between chapters, but this time we head from the Thunderhead. I really liked that because it gave this AI a personality, and even some almost human qualities. Seeing it watch over the world and watching the scythes, but unable to intervene, was fascinating. But it was also mildly terrifying. When it finds out what the character I cannot name is up to, it gets almost…angry and that is really what I’m excited to see play out in the final book.
Overall, I loved this book. The various characters were well written to the point where I either really liked or respected them or absolutely hated them. There were even some that I was torn about because I could see that they were not always okay with their own actions. This story brings up so many compelling ideas. What would it mean to have an AI in control of everything outside of life and death? What would it mean for a person to be the hand of death? What would it mean for a shunned scythe to take justice into their own hands? I was absolutely fascinated with this story and I cannot wait to read the finale.

Quotes:

“The world is a flower I hold in my palm. I would end my own existence rather than crush it.”

“I know them intimately, and yet they can never truly know me. There is tragedy in that.”

“A sense of humor, no matter how dark, is always a good thing.”

“The simple pleasure of being good at what you do is very different from finding joy in the taking of life.”

“Should evil people be allowed the freedom to be evil, without any safety nets?”

“We leave justice to the universe. And what rings out always echoes back.”

“If we were judged by the things we most regret, no human being would be worthy to sweep the floor.”

“That’s exactly what the scythedom is: high school with murder.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Review:
I don’t know why I read books that aren’t dystopian. I almost always end up with new favorite books when I read new things from the dystopian genre. Though with Scythe, I was actually rereading and falling in love all over again. I don’t know why or how I forgot how much I really loved this series. I’m rereading in preparation for the final book, which was just released on November the Fifth. I’m also lucky enough to be able to go one of his tour events with a friend of mine.
I loved the world that Schusterman has built. It’s so well explained, and never with any information dumps. We slowly learn more about how things are and why they are this way. It’s such an elaborate and well thought out world. I also really liked that there was still a resemblance to the world we know today. It made it mildly terrifying to think of this story as a possible future.
Now, our main characters, Citra and Rowan. I liked them both as individuals but I didn’t really care about their romantic relationship because it seemed like an afterthought. There was so much focus on their Scythe training and both trying to be the best apprentices they could be. There’s one event that happens about a third of the way into the story that infuriated me. If you’ve read this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But we get some resolution to that particular issue and I was very happy about that.
My favorite thing about this book is the way that Schusterman makes you think. His books all have elements of this. Scythe really makes you think about mortality and the things we may lose if/when we attain immortality. The characters talk about how there really are no new things created now that the Thunderhead knows all. They look at art from the Age of Mortality and the emotions that clearly shine through and how nothing like that has been created since beating death. Then there’s the Scythedom. It really makes the reader think about what it means to be in control of whether others live or die. What it means to literally be the hand of death and what kind of person should or should not be that hand. It was just a really thought-provoking story.
Overall, I absolutely love this book. I cannot wait to reread Thunderhead (which I’ll be doing as soon as I schedule this review). I love this story and I am dying to know how it ends.

Quotes:

“But remember that good intentions pave many roads. Not all of them lead to hell.”

“Isn’t it good to know that we are all safe from the threat of the inferno? Except, of course, when we’re not.”

“You see, there are some who seek celebrity to change the world, and others who seek it to ensnare the world.”

“Martyrs testify far more effectively than the living.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Best of 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week we’re given a new prompt for a top ten list of all things bookish. This week is top ten best books I’ve read in 2018 (so far). I’m excited about this one because I have a post on other social media where I post the best book I read each month. I’m obviously only through June so here I can add a few more! Here’s my list of the ten best books I’ve read so far this year.

top t t

1. Air Awakens by Elise Kova – I found this as a boxed set on my Kindle so it was like reading one giant book even though it was five books. This series made me laugh and cry and It’s only been a few months since I read it and I already want to read it again.
2. Moon Chosen & Sun Warrior by P.C. Cast – It honestly took me forever to actually read these but they were AMAZING and I can’t wait until Windrider comes out in October.
3. Scythe & Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – This was an incredibly creative story. I’m excited to see where the third book takes these characters.
4. Renegades by Marissa Meyer – Superheros, duh!
5. The Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg – I loved all of these books, even the fourth that has different characters in the same word. The world is so interesting and well thought out and just incredible.
6. The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson – I found this book in the ‘popular books’ section of my Kindle Unlimited subscription and thought it sounded interesting. Boy was it. The plot in this story was so confusing and funny and heart wrenching all at the same time somehow.
7. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas – The newest book (novella) in my favorite series, so yeah, it obviously makes this list.
8. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline – It was such an emotional and just all around powerful story. I didn’t think I was going to like this book nearly as much as I did.
9. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – I was so surprised by this book. I thought this was one that was overly hyped and it wasn’t really ever on my TBR list. But I found it at the library and said why not. I’m glad I gave it a chance because this story blew me away.
10. Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts – My first audiobook ever. I’ve been super excited for this book to be released because Nora is an auto-buy author for me. I honestly hadn’t even read the synopsis. So when I started listening and the mall shooting happened, I balled my eyes out for the first like half an hour that I was listening.

These are the top ten books that are my favorites for the year so far. I chose to only list books that I read for the first time this year, otherwise, my favorite series would overtake this list. What books are your favorites for 2018 so far?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.