I guess I’ll start with one point I noted somewhere towards the end, which was that the series plot is really heating up now (literally, lol, burning maze heh). And it sort of mirrors what I felt about TC in the initial PJO series. The first two books were lighthearted fun, and then things started to get real in book 3. People died. Characters got deeper. Here we see Meg changing and showing a ruthless side when her ‘roots’ are threatened—and coming into a power she’s not sure she deserves or can control. We see Apollo shocked into really understanding what humanity means. (And I agree that the character death was necessitated to spur that revelatory moment. So from a plot perspective I can accept its necessity. From a I-love-these-characters perspective, I’m gutted that we had to trade Jason for Apollo. Because, you know, four thousand year old god. How’s that fair? But more on my feelings about this later.) We even see ruptures and upheaval in Jason and Piper’s relationship, and Piper on a likely traumatic journey through all of it. The kid gloves are off—We’re not in your average ‘fun adventure’ territory any more and I will admit I was wrong ... RR DID go dark with this one. (To Melpomene indeed.) It will be interesting to see how he moves on after this.
I found the tone shift interesting. It’s really hard to pull off angst with a first-person narrator like Apollo, whose every second sentence is a humorous aside. And I did find that transition tough to swallow. The jokes and comedic references were jarring in the last few chapters, and it makes me wonder if the main character is really capable of matching the overall plot set-up. But ... I guess we’ll see with the next book. (The Tyrant’s Tomb, hmmmm.)
Speaking of the next book, it’s also interesting that we didn’t get the full sonnet prophecy unravelled after all. And yeah I totally messed up predicting that they’d get to Camp Jupiter and then get into the Labyrinth. We didn’t even see anything on that—the whole bad news stuff happened entirely offscreen! (And did we even get a resolution on what that was, or just a cliffy? Surprise surprise, Mr Supreme Lord of the Cliffhangers strikes. You guys think I’m evil with my weekly cliffhangers? We’re waiting a year with all of his!) The only things I managed to guess were Caligula and Incitatus.
So on the character deaths. Wrong about that too: I did not see it coming. I started out this book deathly afraid for Grover. Because at the end of Ship of the Dead, with Percy and Annabeth crying when Magnus contacted them, I was sure they’d suffered a great loss. And since Grover had been summoned at the end of TDP, that seemed to be the logical answer.
So every ‘spoiler’ I came across that hinted at RR actually killing off a character, or alluding to whatever I feared—well, I thought it’d be Grover. I really didn’t even expect Jason and Piper to be a big part of this book, but once that prophecy about one of them popped up, I kind of figured this might be Grover’s get-out-of-Erebus-free card.
Am I relieved Grover didn’t die? Tremendously! (Do NOT mess with the sacred trio, man!) Am I thankful it was Jason instead? Sadly ... yes. I’m sorry. I do love Grover more than Jason, and that’s just that.
Jason still strikes me as this too-perfect character (the kind we’d have called a Gary-Stu in the old days). Always doing the right thing, his ‘flaws’ coming across as not really that deep. (And go ahead and change my mind on this, I’m open to changing my perspective.) I didn’t have a real connection to him, possibly because first impressions—well, he knew nothing about himself ergo the reader knows nothing too. But one thing that IS evident about him: he’s a good friend. He’s still a good guy. And thus the impact his death has—it is tremendous.
So yeah, I’m still gutted that Jason kicked it. And his death scene was pretty darn powerful. Also, the fact that he died broken up with his girlfriend whom he obviously still loved—okay that’s the stuff broken hearts are made of, you know? We got to see all these reactions as well, and more are definitely coming. Remind me to prepare stacks of hankies for next year’s book release. When I think ‘Jason’s dead,’ I just get this sense of ‘huh. Okay.’ (As opposed to the jitters I had all week anticipating this book and thinking we’d lose Grover.) But then I think about Annabeth and Percy getting the news. Of Thalia hearing about it. I got Leo popping in at the end, oh gods. And Reyna, who is certain to be in the next book and probably the third quest member. And I think of all of them dealing with the loss of a good friend and my heart crumbles into teensy tiny pieces. Guys, I do not know how I’m going to drag myself into work tomorrow and attempt to tackle editing my papers because of this devastation.
I’m feeling a bit guilty as well because besides feeling relieved that he died not Grover, it’s almost like as a reader I was all, naaaah don’t like Jason. And then RR goes, I see. All right, he’s expendable, let’s kill him! Do you love him now, huh? It’s almost like the Dobby thing. Everyone probably called him annoying at some point, but you wanna tell me you didn’t shed a tear after Malfoy Manor?
And one last thing that strikes fear into my heart. I am no longer confident that RR will keep the body count down. I mean, he did the Big One—killing off a main character. That’s like a turning point. Like when Sirius died in OotP, you know the books will never be the same. Before I was so excited every time one of the old crew turned up. Now ... I don’t want to see them any more because WHAT IF THEY DIE? Pleeeeeease do not kill Reyna in the next book, for instance. And I am uncomfortably aware that Greek mythology Ends In Tragedy, even though none of the book series have yet ... the idea that this could all end in Everybody Dies frightens me so bad. I’m not sure I’d stay in PJO fandom if there was no more Percy and Annabeth. (And I guess I need to hurry up writing my fic then because I was actually afraid I’d lose motivation if Grover kicked the bucket. I feel like I’ve got a stay of execution here, but next year ... the year after that ... *shivers*)
Okay. Now I need to go and write a ton of angst because thank you, Melpomene, I hope you’re happy.