Not one but two new books in the world of Percy Jackson and the Olympians (PJO) dropped in 2023: The Sun and the Star (Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro) and Percy Jackson: The Chalice of the Gods (Rick Riordan). As a longtime PJO reader, I had to read these. I've been bad and skipped the Apollo series and I think these books spoiled a couple key events in that Apollo series, so if you're not caught up and don't want spoilers, finish the Apollo books before reading these two. The Sun and the Star published first, but is later in time. If you want to maintain total surprise in the timeline, read The Chalice of the Gods first.
The Chalice of the Gods is a classic PJO story. Percy needs three letters of recommendation to get into the university in New Rome with Annabeth. To get a letter, he has to do a quest. We're back to the classic trio of Grover, Annabeth, and Percy getting into trouble with figures from Greek myths. It gives the vibes of the first two or three PJO books but with older protagonists. Nostalgia galore.
The Sun and the Star follows Nico, Hades's shadowy son, and Will, a child of Apollo, as they travel to Tartarus to retrieve something very important left behind when Percy and Annabeth visited in The House of Hades. While Nico is immune to many of Tartarus's dangers, his true love Will isn't so lucky.
Both books were nostalgic, lightly/sweetly romantic, and a great read overall. A little older than readers who are just starting on the world of PJO (book 1 is Middle Grade after all), but it's perfect for readers who have read all the books up to this point.
I know I normally list negatives here, but honestly, no notes.
The Sun and the Star and The Chalice of the Gods are for you if you like the other PJO books, if you've been waiting for Nico and Will to get more narrative attention, or if you like Greek mythology. The Chalice of the Gods is a good entry point for readers new to the world, if you're intimidated by the backlog of other books in the series. These books are not for you if you're not going to be onboard with a gay romance, if you dislike PJO books (let's not discuss the live action movie), or if you need your books to take everything very seriously.
Since Goodreads removed Middle Grade as a category in their Best Books of 2023 awards, shout out your favorite middle grade books in the comments to shine some much deserved light on them!