Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gregor the Overlander

Title: Gregor the Overlander
Category: Fantasy
Grades: 3-7
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: 2003
Pages: 308

Gregor’s father has been missing several years now.  So when his baby sister, Boots, disappears down the grate in the laundry room, Gregor is determined not to lose any more of his family, no matter what the cost.  Unfortunately, the cost turns out to be far more than he expected as he enters the Underland, a strange world of giant rats, spiders, cockroaches… and humans.  Gregor finds himself snarled into the center of an ancient conflict among the species and an even more ancient prophecy that seems to proclaim him as the Savior the Underlanders have been waiting for. All Gregor wants is to get himself and his sister home safely… until he discovers another mystery that simply cannot be left unsolved.

Perhaps best known for the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins shows off her versatility in this fast-paced and funny, if unlikely, tale for the middle grades.  Not normally one to enjoy even the mention of giant cockroaches and spiders, I was only reluctantly persuaded to read this story.  It was a fabulous and thoroughly entertaining tale, not unlike Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief, or the Redwall adventures by Brian Jacques.  Collins has created a fascinating world with fully-fleshed characters that are completely foreign, yet sympathetic.  Gregor is the type of ordinary, real-world kid most of his readers are, and they will enjoy this story simply because it could have been them dueling giant rats, and learning daring aerial tricks by bat.  The story has the vibrancy and swift action that make a good read-aloud, and readers far beyond the intended audience will enjoy Gregor’s adventures in the Underland.


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