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28 November 2011

Review: The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

As some of you may know, I've been reading The Underland Chronicles series (Gregor the Overlander, etc.) since this summer and recently read the fifth and last book in the series (much to my dismay.  Seriously, does anybody know if there are more?  I need more!)

I initially read these books because they were by The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins (and I love THG) so I figured I'd give the series a try, even though giant rats, bats, cockroaches and an underground world weren't really my thing.  Now I'm thinking I need to rethink "my thing"....cause I LOVED these books.

Here is a great trailer I found on youtube for the series:

Here is a brief synopsis from wikipedia explaining the entire series:
The Underland Chronicles is a five-part series of fantasy novels by Suzanne Collins, first published between 2003 and 2007. It tells the story of a boy named Gregor and his adventures in a land called the "Underland", hidden under New York City. The Underland is inhabited by humans, who live in the stone city of Regalia, along with various giant versions of such creatures as bats, cockroaches, rats, lizards, mice, ants, and spiders. According to the author, the series involves many topics relating to war, including biological warfare, genocide, and military intelligence.

There are five books in the series:  (each synopsis is from the above wikipedia page)
1.  Gregor the Overlander
Eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister Boots fall through a vent in the basement of their apartment and find themselves in a strange place called the Underland, where they meet the people and creatures who live there. The Underlanders identify Gregor as the warrior of their prophecy, and Boots the "princess" that all cockroaches worship. Gregor goes on a quest to save his lost father in the midst of a war between the Underlanders and the rats.
2.  Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
Gregor is lured back to the Underland to slay a rat called The Bane, along with his bat, two rats, the Queen of Regalia, his sister, and one cockroach. The Prophecy of Bane tells that the rats seek "a barely speaking pup." The Underlanders tell Gregor that "pup" is the rats' word for baby. Gregor starts to wonder if Boots will ever see the sun again.
3.  Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
When Nerissa hands Gregor a new propechy, he knows that he has to go back to the Underland. But that is certainly not okay with his mother. She decides to come with him. They go through the grate in the laundry room only to find that a plague has come into the Underland and it soon infects Gregor's mother and Ares, Gregors bond. Gregor and the Regalians must quest to find the cure. They go to find it in the Underland's jungle. At the entrance, they meet Hamnet, a man who left Regalia years ago after a great tragedy, Hazard, his Halflander son who can speak to animals, and Frill, their giant lizard friend. They head into the jungle that is full of flesh-eating plants, poisonous animals, and no fresh water for miles around. The only thing that keeps Gregor from running away is the thought of his sick mother and best friend.
4.  Gregor and the Marks of Secret
The Bane takes control of the rats, and Gregor and his friends must fight to stop him. Gregor falls in love with Luxa, having nearly done so in the first book. They sneak out of Regalia and find that the rats have driven the mice out of the jungle and the Fount. They follow a tunnel under the river to the Firelands, where the mice have been driven. But the air is noxious, there are dozens of volcanoes, and they soon find more giant creatures waiting to kill them. When Luxa finds the bodies of hundreds of mice, she does the unthinkable. Luxa declares full-on war with the rats. There is no going back now.
5.  Gregor and the Code of the Claw
The prophecy in the story is the Prophecy of Time. It says that both the Bane and the Warrior will die, and that the Underlanders must break the cipher called the Code of Claw in order for humanity to survive. Gregor's attraction and consequent relationship to Luxa increases.

If you couldn't tell, I loved the series.  I can't wait to recommend it to some of my students.  I've already tweeted my sister telling her exactly where to find it in our local library.  Its one of those series that appeals to children as well as adults, so please don't limit yourself thinking that since I'm recommending it to my students that it must just be a kids series.  Oh no.  Its much more than that.  

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