The Tower of Nero
by Rick Riordan
Kindle Edition, 528 pages
Published September 29th 2020 by Disney Hyperion
It’s time to face the final trial….
The battle for Camp Jupiter is over. New Rome is safe. Tarquin and his army of the undead have been defeated. Somehow Apollo has made it out alive, with a little bit of help from the Hunters of Artemis.
But though the battle may have been won, the war is far from over.
Now Apollo and Meg must get ready for the final – and, let’s face it, probably fatal – adventure. They must face the last emperor, the terrifying Nero, and destroy him once and for all.
Can Apollo find his godly form again? Will Meg be able to face up to her troubled past? Destiny awaits….
I keep putting off this review because I don’t think I could write a review for this book. I mean, I can, as a book, but The Tower of Nero is not just a book: it also marks the end of the PJO story. After 15 years and 15 books, it’s time to say goodbye and I’m scared that this review will be too overwhelmed with nostalgia and goodbye.
But I do have a lot of things to say about this book, so here we are. If I do veers too much on the nostalgia, please bear with me.
For me, there are so many callbacks to the previous series that this book felt like a trip down memory lane of the whole PJO universe. We came full circle by coming back to Manhattan for the final showdown, visiting Sally Jackson’s house, visit CHB at the height of the summer, meeting Chiron and Dionysus, and being chased by a kind-of bull creature. There are also the fact that Will, Nico, and Rachel became the main characters in this story, but there are other callbacks involving plastic brush and a certain transportation.
As its own book, I think the Tower of Nero wrapped the Trials of Apollo really well. The characters all met their fitting end and especially our main character Apollo grown a lot. I would say that the villains are the weakest part of this series: Python’s motivation wasn’t really explained (except for world domination) and Nero’s megalomania made him comical. With how amazing the other elements are, I wish we got a better villain. This series just really excels in how it explores what does it mean being human and abuse, that the villains actions were just out of place.
While this book wrapped the series really well, I don’t think this is the last we see some of the characters. I have a feeling we’ll see Nico and Will sometime in the future, which I really looking forward to (but give Nico happiness pls)!
Uncle Rick’s writing has always been a comfort for me, I just love how fun it is while managed to teach us about mythology and discussed wide range of topics. While the writing does not lose the sass and snarkiness, I feel like in this book it has a lot of monologue that took me out of the story and pacing. It’s good in a way that this inner monologue reflects Apollo’s growth, of how he became more considerate and observative. But it’s also bad in a way it can get boring and cuts through the story 😬
I’m saving the best for last since I think the best part of the series is its characters growth. All the characters have grown so much from the first time we laid eyes on them. Nico and Will were so cute, I love their banter and how comfortable they are with each other. Nico is also more comfortable with who he is and various part of his powers, as proven by how often he uses them and the amount of power he has over them. He has grown to be one of the most powerful demigod out there. Will himself is such a beautiful, caring soul that if Apollo hasn’t change I couldn’t believe Will is his son. He’s really precious, just the best, with the right amount of sass and I’m really happy Nico has him 🥺 We also met again with Rachel, who is more confident in her role as the Oracle. And yet, she still retains her mortality and her human-ness, and she did not lose her fire.
Meg has grown into herself and I wish we can see her again in the future. When we first met her, she felt petulant and wild but as we go on adventure with her, we see how much she cared for others and her position as a survivor. She has grown so much stronger, in a good way that she led an army and came to care for Apollo. And Apollo, wow. Apollo of course, undergo the biggest transformation. The arrogant Sun God is no more, his trials have changed him for good. He is still narcissistic at some point yes (I don’t think thousand of years of trials will change this), but he is able to put himself in others’ shoes. He is able questioned himself, his actions, and his family more, and he truly cares for humans now. All the trials have changed him for the better.
As a series finale, this book wrapped the story neatly. It’s not perfect, but it is bittersweet and everything did fall into their respective places. As an end of an era, it is perfect. We got many callbacks, we came full circle, and we get glimpses of what’s in store in the future for our beloved characters. The Tower of Nero is a fun, fast-paced adventure that allowed us to see the magnificent growth of our favorite characters and saying good bye to the beloved universe of PJO 🥺