Saturday, March 2, 2013

Book Review: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

This is the second book in the Underland Chronicles series by Suzanne Collins.  Although my friend's kids are transfixed by this series, I'm finding it hard to rally their level of enthusiasm.  I'm not saying the books aren't interesting.  They are.  I'm just not feeling as connected to the characters, or perhaps as invested in the characters, as I had hoped. It will be interesting to see how my boys react to these books, but I'll wait for a few years, as I think they are a bit young for them now.

Gregor once again finds himself in the Underland beneath New York City.  He is summoned when his younger sister Boots is kidnapped and dragged below by the enormous cockroaches.  Another prophecy calls for Gregor's help.  This time he is asked to find and kill the Bane (a scourge of a rat who is entirely white).  The adventure requires the team (made up once again of supporting warriors, including the feisty princess Luxa) to travel along the Waterway in search of the Labyrinth, where the Bane is hidden.  The cryptic prophecy suggests that the baby will die.  Gregor is loathe to lose his sister, but also loathe to face the challenge of killing the Bane.  He learns that he holds a magical power for fighting, but will he use it to fulfill the prophecy or not?  Will Boots come away unscathed?

The writing is good.  The plot moves along quickly enough, with plenty of twists and turns.  Still, I couldn't help thinking that I could tell the ending before it even began.  While I did not predict what would happen during the confrontation with the Bane, I was correct in guessing what happened to the little sister.  At least, this second installment clarified the purpose in Boot's involvement in these quests to begin with (since I was fuzzy on her role in the last book).  Parents may find the second installment to be a bit more violent than the first.

I will continue to give this series a chance and will seek out book three.  However, I still am more a fan of "The Hunger Games" series than of this one.  I'm guessing we can expect this author to continue to improve with each series she writes.  Collins has a wonderful skill for creating a world and conjuring challenges.

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