Book Review Blog, Episode Five – Suzanne Collins’ Gregor the Overlander.
Book Summary: When Gregor’s little sister, Boots, falls down a hole in their apartment building’s laundry room, Gregor goes in after her. Instead of falling a few inches or feet, Boots and Gregor fall for what feels like five minutes, landing in the Underland. Some giant roaches (known as crawlers) happen upon the two, and they take Boots and Gregor to the human city of Regalia where they meet princess Luxa and her grandfather Vikus, among others. After trying to escape and fighting two big rats (gnawers), Gregor and Boots are rescued by Regalians and returned to their city. It is there that Vikus tells Gregor he and his sister are the two Overlanders mentioned in the Prophecy of Gray, and that he will help end the war between humans and gnawers or see Regalia destroyed. This is where the real quest begins as Gregor has to travel the Underland to recruit some of its denizens (two humans [Over-and-Underlanders], bats [fliers], crawlers, spiders [spinners], one gnawer [who is a spy], and one who is lost [who turns out to be Gregor’s father who disappeared more than two years ago]). It also says four out of the 12 will die during the quest. Can Gregor find his father, end the war between the humans and gnawers, and save Regalia? This is the first book in a series of five.
APA Reference: Collins, S. (2004). Gregor the Overlander. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.
Impressions: Similar to The Hunger Games, Collins hooks me into the story at the end of the first chapter. She developed and crafted a wonderful world with rich characters that were fun to read about. I got attached to the characters and cried when one of them heroically sacrificed themselves to save the rest of the questers. Some of the Prophecy of Gray was easy to decipher, but some was still a mystery up to the point where its meaning was revealed, but it was to try and solve it while reading. I could go on and on about how wonderful the book is, but I’ll cut it short by saying I cannot wait until I can read the next four books in the Underland Chronicles.
Professional Review: Del Negro, J. M. (2004). Gregor the overlander [Review of the book Gregor the Overlander, by S. Collins]. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 57(5), 185. Retrieved from http://bccb.ischool.illinois.edu/
…The accouterments of successful fantasy-a unique setting, a believable social hierarchy, and colorful but rounded characterizations-are here, and Collins makes the best of them. She firmly establishes both her characters and her world before sending her players on their dangerous path. Betrayals, revelations, and shifts of alliance keep the tension high, and the action is almost nonstop. There have been a number of fantasies about secret civilizations that exist beneath the streets of urban centers; this lively title is a splendid addition to the ranks.
Library Uses: This book would be a good introduction to the Hero’s Quest archetype or fantasy book, or it could be used to highlight famous authors’ early works.