09 September 2010

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander

Title: Gregor the Overlander
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 31 August 2004
Date Finished: 3 September 2010

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge, YA Reading Challenge, Flashback Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,

The Short and Sweet of It
Gregor's life changes when he slips down the rabbit hole. Or rather the air vent in the laundry room. Soon he finds himself in a world he never knew existed, thriving below his own, with royalty, talking animals, inter-species conflicts, and prophecies. The reader is treated to a wonderful adventure in a unique and well crafted world.

A Bit of a Ramble
My first bout reading Collins' Overlander series was almost exactly two years ago when I read the first four books in one day - Labor Day. Back in 2008, eclectic/eccentric was a much different blog, and so I didn't actually review the books individually or as a series. When I needed a break from Mary Roach's snarky wit (which I adore) in Packing for Mars, I decided to start re-reading this series. I adored it the first time around, and I was determined to read the books more carefully, taking time with them. One hour later, I've finished the first book. So much for slow and steady.

In the first installment, readers are introduced to the Underland, an entire civilization with people, rats, cockroaches, spiders, bats, and other creatures. As with any collection of large populations, there are fights, and in the Underland, the two big combatants are the humans and the rats. A prophecy has long foretold of an Overland warrior who will be instrumental in ensuring the humans are not exterminated by the rats, and when Gregor comes to the human city of Regalia, it quickly becomes apparent - to everyone but Gregor - that he is the subject of the prophecy. And so begins a daring adventure with a unique cast of characters.

I love so much about this book. The world is well-constructed, detailed but not overbearing. The plot moves along at a perfect pace for a YA-middle grade adventure novel. Collins' has an artful way with words that really draws me in to the story, and I really appreciate the humor she intersperses throughout. Ultimately though, it is the characters that really stand out to me.

Gregor follows many of the same characteristics as the typical reluctant hero; however, his reluctance doesn't come off as angelic humility, but rather very human modesty.  Accompanying him is his sister, Boots, a precocious two-year-old that immediately captured my heart and tickled my funny bone. She is wonderfully open and accepting in the way of two-year-olds, and has no compunction about reminding Gregor, great warrior that he is, that he still needs to take time out from saving the world to change her diaper. Love it.

The Underlanders that join Gregor and Boots on their adventure are just as intriguing. Luxa is the heir-apparent to the thrown, just years away from taking the crown as Queen of the humans in the Underland. Henry, Vikus, Ares, Aurora, (two humans and two bats), Tick and Temp (cockroaches who worship Boots), seriously the list goes on and on with interesting characters culminating in Ripred, a battle-hardened and skilled rat who is siding with the humans in an attempt to overthrow the current Rat King and bring peace to the warring nations.

Even though I told myself I would read the series through at a much slower pace than the first time, I am right now fighting the urge to pick up the second book in the series and dive right in, plowing through in one day just like I did the first time around.  If you enjoy action-packed, entertaining, and well written adventure stories for younger adults/older kids, you should definitely pick up this series!

Memorable Quote:  ...for a second Gregor succeeded in thinking of himself as a warrior. A bold, brave, powerful warrior that the Underlanders would tell stories about for centuries. He could almost see himself leading a squadron of bats into battle, stunning the rats, saving the Underland from -

'Ge-go, I pee!' announced Boots.

And there he stood, a boy in a goofy hard hat with a beat-up flashlight and a bunch of batteries he hadn't even tested to see if they still had juice.

The mighty warrior excused himself and changed a diaper.

The Filmic Connection
I wish.

This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!

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  1. I have always been surprised not to see these books around more, given Collins's fame with The Hunger Games. This sounds like a good series as well!

  2. I'm thinking I might read the rest of this series during readathon.

  3. I've seen this series around since I was in middle school; it always looked cute. I'm glad you love it so much!

  4. I have been wanting to read some of Collins' other offerings and so I was really glad to see this review. I bet this series is something that I would really love, and I will have to make an effort to get ahold of it. Great review, by the way! I am happy to hear that this book was just as successful the second time around!

  5. This sounds a bit like a male Alice in Wonderland in the description. Is it?

  6. Stephanie - I thought the same thing. I thought people would jump on this series after Hunger Games, but I decided I'd give it a little push so more people can read this wonderful story.

    Amanda - This would be a great readathon series, especially towards the end. It's an easy read and full of excitement so it might help keep you up!

    Clare - I really get a kick out of this series, and I think everyone should try it out. :)

    Zibilee - It's a really fun read, so I definitely recommend it.

    Jenners - Hmmm...I hadn't made that connection; then again, I've *embarrassed cough* never read Alice in Wonderland. There's definitely the whole uber-weird setting with totally incorrect talking animals and the such not, but that's crossed with a whole Chronicles of Narnia type hero-thing going on. You should read it. :)

  7. I have the second book somewhere.....

  8. You've caught my attention (especially since I've been meaning to check out more of Collin's stuff). How many books are in the series?

  9. I think James and I would like this book.

  10. Pam - I know I half-way ruined the surprise when we talked on Twitter, but wasn't that whole Ge-go I pee! conversation brilliant! I'm trying to hold off on reading the rest of the series now that Amanda has put it into my head that they would be great readathon books!

    Christina - There are five books in the series, and man do I wish there were more!

    Stephanie - I would definitely give it a try; it's just so fun in my opinion.

  11. I started reading this series after Mockingjay since I was in such harsh withdrawal! I loved it and loved the second even more. I do really love the character of Gregor. No spoilers...I'll start book three tomorrow. :)

  12. Amy - I'm glad you like it! I really just adore this series for some reason. It's so unapologetically middle grade/YA. So much fun!

  13. Wow, I'll definitely look into this one! I have been wondering if I should, since The Hunger Games is making such a splash. It sounds right up my alley! And I LOVE that feeling of gorging on a particular series :-)

  14. Aarti - I must say I like Gregor much more than I liked Hunger Games; that probably puts me in the minority though. And yes! Gorging on a series is just the best experience.


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