Monday, June 6, 2011

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Gregor is eleven years old. He lives with his mom, grandmother, and two little sisters, Lizzie, seven, and Boots, who's just two. His dad--a fun, gentle, sax-playing, intellectually inquisitive man--vanished while his mom was pregnant with Boots. It's the beginning of a hot, sticky New York summer, and Gregor has to stay home to take care of Boots while mom's at work and all the other kids go to day camp.

On the very first day of summer vacation, after watching the neighborhood kids get on the bus to camp, Gregor dutifully gathers up the laundry (and Boots) and heads down to the laundry room to do his chores. Somehow Boots manages to fall through a grate in the the wall and Gregor must go after her. Instead of simply being able to pull her out and get back to business, Gregor finds himself falling downward, a long way downward, much like Alice when she falls down the rabbit hole.

When he hits the bottom Gregor discovers a whole world below (which he later learns is called the Underland). There are people there, pale and violet-eyed, but there are also giant anthropomorphic cockroaches, rats, bats, and spiders. Gregor, apparently the "warrior" in a prophecy made long ago, finds himself on a quest, the goal of which seems to be to find his father and to avert a war.

Gregor the Overlander is a delightful intermediate level novel. Though the burdens placed upon young Gregor are heavy, he shoulders them with aplomb, and learns much along the way. Young readers will absorb (with a spoonful of sugar) such lessons as the importance of believing in oneself and trusting others, not to judge people based on appearance (or species!), and following through on commitments. Charming, often funny (but sometimes scary), and well-written, Gregor is the first installment in the Underland Chronicles.

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sumthinblue said...

Oh I loved The Underland Chronicles almost as much as I loved Hunger Games!

You can find my reviews here:

Fairday Morrow said...

I just saw this review. I absolutely love this series. My co-author teaches 5th grade and turned me on to the first book. I have just finished the 3rd and am waiting for someome to return the 4th to my local library. Amazing tale! I think the characters are easy to relate to and the storylines are fast and exciting!