Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander

One of my Facebook friends suggested Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (author of The Hunger Games).  She has been reading the series (5 books long, I believe) to her children aloud and they are completely smitten with the tale.  Others commented on her post, saying they liked the Gregor books more than The Hunger Games books.  Everyone knows the popularity of The Hunger Games, so that's really saying something.

At this point, only one book into the series, I would have to say that I still prefer The Hunger Games, but I would qualify it.  The Hunger Games books are more appropriate for teens and young adults, while Gregor the Overlander, while found in the young adult section of the library, seems more geared towards the 8-12 year old set (for one thing, the main character is 11 years old).  This book was gripping, but not nearly as intense as THG.

Eleven year old Gregor follows his 2 year old sister Boots into a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment and the two fall down into "The Underland."  Down in this underground world, roaches are enormous and bats and humans have bonded to become sworn allies in a fight against the horrible, gigantic rats.  What Gregor doesn't know is that the humans below have been waiting for a particular person to fall from "the Overland" and save the day with a valiant quest.  A prophecy has been given and the particulars are all falling into place.  Although Gregor refutes his status as "warrior," he agrees to join the quest because he hopes to find and recover his missing father.

I'm not sure what purpose Boots played in the telling of this tale.  It seemed to me that she would have been better off left upstairs in the care of the neighbor who is watching the grandmother while Gregor does the laundry.  As it was, she didn't seem to aid in the quest apart from making Gregor seem like a more appealing character (devoted, as he is, to his baby sister).  But, the prophecy included her and so she was a part of the quest.  I found it quite unbelievable that an 11 year old boy would be able to carry a 2 year old for miles and miles.

Still, the tale was exciting and full of twists and turns.  The characters were likable and the pace steady.  This would be an appealing story for young boys.  I doubt my two guys are quite ready for it (at just 6 and 8), but by next year, we should be able to pick this up and see if they find it as appealing as our friends did.

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