Book Review: “The Sun and the Star”

Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro have written an epic saga of self-discovery about taming inner demons with their monumental new book, The Sun and the Star.

Nico di Angelo is the son of Hades, a brooding loner who often revels in the darkness of his life, shunning his friends, and keeping his feelings to himself. The loss of his mother, and the death of his sister Bianca has helped form this deep dark teen, but when he meets Will Solace, life changes for the son of the god of the Underworld.

Surviving the war with Kronos, Gaea, and the resurrected Roman Emperors, Nico has seen a lot of death and lost many close friends. With his relationship with Will, the brooding child of darkness is starting to learn how to move beyond the terror.

As Nico learns about the torment that Bob, the former Titan, experiences in Tartarus, Nico decides to accept the quest that the camp oracle, Rachel Elizabeth Dare unveils, and sets out with his boyfriend Will Solace to the Underworld and beyond to save the lost and tormented titan. With approval from Chiron and Mr. D, Nico and Will set out on a mission that is not only difficult but nearly impossible to survive.

As the journey takes them further underground, Nico and Will quickly learn that what they expected to happen is not even close to reality. In Tartarus, there is an ancient god who is manipulating Nico, and drawing him deeper into a void of pain and darkness. The one question for Nico is, will he be strong enough to defeat this god, save Bob, and make it out alive? Is Will Solace going to suffer a terrible fate for having a relationship with Nico? That’s what the quest will prove.

In the Rick Riordan literary world, the Percy Jackson saga is a unique enterprise. There are characters that are almost two decades old that appeal to a wide variety of readers, and thanks to the beautifully composed modern day mythology stories, Riordan has brought Greek and Roman mythology to the masses. Nico di Angelo is one of those supporting blocks to this literary world and has always presented an opportunity for further exploration.

Now with The Sun and the Star, readers and fans get a chance to learn a little more about the son of Hades. Nico is far from the brooding goth child that one may assume him to be. With this book, we finally get a real introduction to Nico, and learn to love him as much as Percy or Annabeth.

The collaboration between Riordan and Mark Oshiro has produced a masterpiece of self- realization, which allows readers to see how Nico who has always felt comfortable in the shadows and in the background, is just a normal kid who would love to have people care for him. Nico is the child of Hades, but he is a teen just like everyone else, who happens to have his entire life marked by tragedy.

When you grow up losing your mother, being locked in a magical hotel that keeps you hidden for decades, and then lose your sister, it would be easy to understand why Nico di Angelo is a kid who shuns attention. However, just because you shun attention does not mean that you don’t desperately want someone to care for you.

This is the inner battle that Nico fights throughout The Sun and the Star. His relationship with Will Solace is the keystone for his growth and allows him to understand, accept, and grow into letting the outside world into his life. The love and care between the two not only show a positive healthy relationship that demonstrates the complexities of teen romances but reminds everyone that love is love.

Will Solace is a remarkable character in the sense that he doesn’t focus on the unbelievable abilities that Nico possesses, like summoning the dead. Rather, Will is that one person who looks beyond the standoffish persona, and sees the person that Nico really is. For the young son of Hades, having Will love him is a challenge because for so long he has tried to avoid a loving relationship for fear of losing it.

The overall message of The Sun and the Star is a journey of getting to know oneself. Not everyone can go on a fantastical quest to the Underworld to rescue a former Titan, but Riordan and Oshiro have crafted a thrilling adventure tale that reminds readers that one does not have to always carry the pain of the past with them.

The biggest impediment to happiness is an inability to learn from your mistakes and to be able to grow. When a person shuts themselves off from others, they are making a conscious decision to stay away for fear of being hurt. Nico di Angelo has a past that would traumatize anyone, but with the help of his boyfriend, and a willingness to learn, he overcomes a terror that is more frightening than any journey into Tartarus, the ability to conquer your fear and live with the pain of the past and move on.

The Sun and the Star is a masterpiece of execution between two writers that blend so perfectly to tell one story, that fans will reread these pages for years to come. One day, we will need to see The Sun and The Star on the big screen, not only for the adventure, but also for the one-of-a-kind humor that radiates through the tale. If only we could see Will Solace perform his Care Bear stare come to life. For now, it will be a gift to the readers as they walk through the pages of the book.

The Sun and the Star is a four-star action-packed love story that finally brings one of the most compelling supporting characters in the Percy Jackson world his own story.

Bill Gowsell
Bill Gowsell has loved all things Disney since his first family trip to Walt Disney World in 1984. Since he began writing for Laughing Place in 2014, Bill has specialized in covering the Rick Riordan literary universe, a retrospective of the Touchstone Pictures movie library, and a variety of other Disney related topics. When he is not spending time with his family, Bill can be found at the bottom of a lake . . . scuba diving