Gregor the Overlander

by Suzanne Collins
First sentence: “Gregor had pressed his forehead against the screen for so long, he could feel a pattern of tiny checks above his eyebrows.”
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Content: There are a couple of battles and some tense moments. It is in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

First a story: M read this when she was about 10 or 11 years old, and told me that it was SO good and that I needed to read it. I balked: Gregor goes underground and goes on a quest with talking cockroaches?! Ew. (I loathe cockroaches. Ugh.) She finally, after years of bugging me, gave up and moved on. However, when I saw it on the list for the science fiction/fantasy module in my children’s lit class, I remembered M’s urging and I picked it up (finally!).

And you know what? She was right. (Not the first time.) The basic premise is that Gregor, whose father has been missing for 2 years, falls into the Underland, a world where there are some humans who live in an uneasy peace with giant spiders, cockroaches, and bats, and whose mortal enemies are the giant rats. (And yes, all the animals talk.) Once there, Gregor finds out that he may be/is the Warrior who would fulfill the prophecy, perhaps bringing peace between the humans and the rats. And, oh by the way, the rats have his dad, so maybe they can rescue him, too.

Yeah, it sounds trite: there are talking animals and a prophecy (they’re all the rage!) but Collins is quite masterful in telling a story. She keeps the action moving, she makes us care about Gregor and all the other Underlanders and she even gives us a nice twist at the end that careful readers will see coming (I didn’t guess, but I wasn’t surprised). And she included Gregor’s 2-year-old sister, Boots, who is literally the best character ever. She’s funny and charming, and provides a humanity to the other characters that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

Oh, and this is a bit of a spoiler: I cried when one of the cockroaches died.

It’s just that good.

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2 thoughts on “Gregor the Overlander

  1. Loved this series from the first reading! To be truthful, I liked the writing in this better than the Hunger Games series and written before that came out, I believe. Read them all when you have time.

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  2. I absolutely loved this book and series. I recommend it to kids all the time and so many of them resist. I understand because it didn’t look or sound like a book I would want to read when I first saw it. I have read it to multiple classes of 5th graders over the years. They all LOVED it. They even begged me to read the next one in the series. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one too.

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