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Neal Shusterman

Notes From a Reading Journal: The Toll, by Neal Shusterman

Notes from a Reading Journal: “The Toll,” by Neal Shusterman.

“And isn’t it wrong for me to pretend to be a god? Define ‘wrong,’ the Thunderhead said.” — P. 359

The much appreciated last book of the “Scythe” trilogy has arrived and wraps everything up perfectly for fans.

Scythe Goddard has removed quotas on gleaning, which means scythes are encourage to “make-up” for those scythes who choose to glean less. He’s the same psychopath he always was, except maybe worse if that’s even possible. Spoiler alert – we find out he was behind a historic gleaning. Texas secedes from his jurisdiction, and his response is to cut off goods and services to the region.

I can’t help but see parallels of our modern society within the themes of this series. Do others see them too?

Scythe Faraday has traveled to the Kwajalein Atoll to “unlock the secret of the atoll and access the wisdom of the founding scythes. Their contingency plan for the scythedom’s failure.” The Thunderhead also has a new plan for humanity , and boy is it a doozy. Getting too tough there on Earth? No problem. Let’s just pack up the ships and launch into outer space. It’ll be fine. Humanity won’t repeat the same mistakes on a new planet. Yeah, right!

Citra and Rowan have a good closure. What is inside the Scythes’ rings? You will find out. What does a Scythe do once rendered obsolete? You will find out.

Notes From a Reading Journal: Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

Notes from a Reading Journal: “Scythe,” by Neal Shusterman.

There were so many elements of this book that I loved! I loved that the Scythes had to keep a gleaning journal; I loved the theme of a “Thunderhead” taking over for the “cloud,” and making government; old age; and disease disappear. I loved the characters and the storyline itself regarding the battle between the old guard and new (read: psychopath) guard scythes.   

One of the deeper philosophical questions to explore was pondered upon by Scythe Currie in one of her journal entries, and covered the subject of what would happen to humanity as they came to terms with immortality. Would they all become Renaissance children, mastering endless new skills and knowledge, or would they sink into despair and laziness, overwhelmed with the knowledge of their uselessness and meaningless lives? She suspected the latter!

Later, she wrote a journal entry reflecting back upon the Age of Mortality, and writing that humans used to strive more heartily towards their goals because they knew that time was of the essence. It is a fascinating topic to discuss. What affect would immortality have on you? Would it be a gift or a curse? 

Another interesting character perspective that is demonstrated from the journal entries is that of Goddard, one of the “new guard” scythes. Goddard is really just a psychopath killer, and not a Scythe. To read his journal entries brought me back to college, when I was studying Crime Typologies! You see, the psychopath doesn’t think that he is a psychopath. He offers well-reasoned explanations for why he does the things that he does. Very few think that they are evil. Everyone has very compelling reasons of how they rationalize their actions to themselves. The journal entries from Goddard’s perspective were quite chilling to read!  

Quotes I Collected in my Reading Journal:

·      Page 53: “The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government.”  

·      Page 67: “Thou shalt lead an exemplary life in word and deed, and keep a journal of each and every day.” 

·      Page 244: “The Thunderhead saw to everyone’s needs. When you need nothing, what else can life be but pleasant?”

·      Page 396: “I have become the monster of monsters, he thought as he watched it all burn. The butcher of lions. The executioner of eagles.” 

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