Customer Reviews: Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)
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on April 10, 2012
First, let me say that I am nearly 25, and graduated college with a degree in English. Read the Hunger Games trilogy, and like many others, was left wanting more after the final book. Realized this was Collins' only other book series, so ignored the fact that it was more "for kids" than the HG series, and bought the first book for my kindle. I have honestly read all 5 in less than 2 weeks, finding myself once again drawn into a world of Collins' making, containing her noteworthy descriptions and numerous-yet-individual characters.

Also, as she did in the HG series, I found Collins planting an underlying message in the Underland Chronicles-- this time, she questions whether war is always a "right vs wrong" situation-- and I thought this to be a positive contemplation for kids and adults alike. If you can look beyond the fact that the main character is 12 (much like you could look beyond Katniss' age in the HG books) then this is worth the couple of bucks to read!

You will not be disappointed :)
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In the sea of young adult fiction out there, Gregor the Overlander makes for one of the more pleasant anchorages. The book starts off quickly with Gregor and his two-year-old sister "Boots" falling through a gateway into the Underworld, a sprawling underground land populated by giant talking cockroaches, rats, bats, and spiders, along with several thousand pale humans descended from a 17th century "overlander" who led his small group into the Underworld then sealed the entrances. This descendant left a string of prophecies, including one which seems to point directly to Gregor as the one who may or may not save the humans in their ongoing war with the rats (as is often the case with prophecies, this one is somewhat lacking in clarity). Gregor has a more personal issue at stake; it turns out his father, who had disappeared a few years earlier, had also fallen through into the Underworld and has been held captive by the rats all this time as they seek to use his knowledge of science and engineering. Luckily, Gregor's desire to save his father dovetails with the prophecy and soon a band of rescuers is formed and the journey begun.
Being a young adult novel, the story moves along swiftly, without a lot of detailed description of either setting or society, but if the world is only sketched out, it is done so fully enough so that the reader never feels at a loss and is done so interestingly enough that the reader often wants to learn much more than is revealed.
The same holds true for many of the characters--Gregor, the young human princess and her cousin from the underworld, the grandfatherly diplomat who befriends and guides Gregor, even the bats who "bond" with their human riders. Perhaps the most interesting characters are a rat whose loyalties are not quite clear and two cockroaches who join the rescue mission, the latter interesting despite their relative few words in comparison to the others. Again, aimed as it is as somewhat younger readers, the characterization comes quickly and sometimes bluntly, but there are also some fine subtleties in here and some truly moving scenes whose emotional impact is as much due to the "humanity" of the characters Collins has created as it is to the situations she places them in. I'd even go so far as to say my favorite characters, the ones I found most compelling in speech and personality, were the non-human ones. His sister Boots is a wecome source of comic relief throughout the work, lightening the tone at times, though also used as a prop to create more tension at others.
Some scenes could and probably should be more fully detailed, but while a valid criticism, one can also take it as a compliment to Collins' writing since it's good enough for the reader to want more, not less. As it is, the book speeds along from Gregor's fall to his first contact with the various species of the underworld, to his growing acceptance of his responsibilities and a gradual flowering of inner qualities as the dangers of the journey unfold. All of which sounds quite positive, but it comes in fits and starts. Collins isn't afraid to give Gregor some unlikable moments and also does not shy away from the darker aspects of her tale--while some people (and I use that term loosely) rise to the occasion, others sink. And some of either kind do not survive. It's a good ending, but not necessarily a completely happy one. It's that kind of complex shading that makes Gregor rise above much of its competition. The ending also clearly points to a sequel and in this case, I can only say good. There is a lot more for Collins to mine here both in terms of the Underland society and these particular characters. I for one will look forward to seeing what happens to both.
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on September 1, 2011
My name is Luke, and I am in the 5th grade. I read a book named, Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins. It is an action-packed adventure story. Once you start reading, you can't put it down. I don't usually love to sit and read, but this book made me want to read for hours and hours!

Gregor the Overlander is about a boy named Gregor, his little sister, Boots and his missing Dad. Gregor and Boots fall though a hole in the washing machine and they are taken to the Underland (a land miles under the ground). The people there think he is a great warrior that is supposed to save their land from six foot tall rats that want to destroy them. An ancient prophecy told them that an overlander (someone who lives above ground) would come and help them. Gregor does not think he is the warrior but goes on the quest hoping to find his father.

I liked this book because it is exciting. There is a lot of suspense and action. You never can tell what will happen next. Gregor the Overlander is also a very imaginative story. It is full of animals that are many times their regular size like 5 foot long ants, 3 feet tall spiders and human-sized roaches!

Gregor the Overlander is a really inspiring book too. Gregor looks after his little sister like a hawk. He was willing to die for her. When I read this book I felt like I should take better care of my brothers. Gregor was also really nice and helpful to creatures that other people looked down on. It reminded me to treat others the way I want to be treated, not like other people treat them.

I think kids who like animals and are creative will love this book. Also, if you like adventure, suspense and action this is the book for you!

I loved this book and can't wait to read the rest in the series!
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VINE VOICEon September 24, 2005
Let me start off by saying I didn't think I'd like this book all that much. I read the book flap description and thought `giant rats and bats? Another quest fantasy?'. But, being the bookworm I am, I decided to at least give it a chance. I'm glad I did. And yes, it is a quest fantasy, and yes there are giant rats and bats and cockroaches too. Surprisingly, it all made for a very enjoyable read.

Gregor, our teenage hero is an ordinary boy fallen on hard times in New York City. His father vanished years ago and his mother works trying to make ends meet while he tries to take care of his siblings. All this changes when Gregor follows his baby sister, Boots, when she falls through a vent in their laundry room into an underground world with giant bugs and creatures. There are humans there too, and all of them seem to think that Gregor is the Overlander of one of their most powerful prophecies-the warrior who will unite them and bring them victory over the armies of the rats. Gregor is more interested in finding a way home, until he discovers that fulfilling the prophecy might also mean finding his father. But the prophecy is muddled and unclear-can Gregor survive the quest and make it home with his sister and father-or will it claim his life?

The story presented here is fairly well tread ground, a reluctant hero from another realm, a quest that requires a gathering of several different creatures, a prophecy that is suitably ambiguous and a dangerous enemy to be overcome. What makes it work is that the author brings the characters to life in delightful ways; the roaches, rats, bats and spiders all have their own styles and customs. As long as the reader is willing to suspend their disbelief that such things can exist, it's a very fascinating a rousing adventure tale with a very satisfying ending. Once the quest is set in motion, events happen very quickly, and our hero becomes the warrior he's required to be. And the twists and turns in the prophecy make certain that this won't be an easy ending to completely figure out. There isn't a great deal of world-building here, although there's enough to make the underground world seem real and realistic in its geography. And while the non-human characters receive some excellent characterization, I found that some of the human characters were less well fleshed out, although Boots is very charming in her way and some of the human characters are better revealed as the story progresses. Perhaps my greatest complaint with this story was that at the very end, a teaser is placed in the story for the sequel in a rather clumsy way. There's suddenly the announcement of "oh, by the way, there's another prophecy . . ." as if it were pulled out of a hat and dropped into the plot. Despite this little add on, the story itself is decent and enthralling and should keep a reader entertained until the end.

This book is dark at times, and may be a bit scary for younger readers, but most young teen and preteen readers who enjoy quest fantasy will likely enjoy it. Older readers may find the characters a bit too young for their interest -this is definitely not a universal read, but it works well for its age group. Readers who enjoy this will want to go on to read GREGOR AND THE PROPHECY OF THE BANE, which is the next book in the series. Other types of books these readers may enjoy will be THE DARK IS RISING sequence by Susan Cooper and SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD by Diane Duane.

Happy Reading! Shanshad ^_^
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on September 5, 2003
Amazing. Rats and other wonderfully creepy creatures fill the story's dark underworld , but what makes this book so wonderful is how human it is. Gregor and Boots are such brilliantly written characters that when they take you into a strange new world you really feel that you are there. Wow.
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on March 29, 2007
My teacher gave me this book and said that he thought it was good, now that i have read it i am hooked to the series. I think that it is a really good book if you like really fiction books i think this is great
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Hey all you young readers,

you're in for a treat

The adventures of Gregor

are really quite neat

Sucked into the sewers,

and then far beneath

Away from the sun

where big rats have large teeth

To fulfill the carvings

The Prophecy of Gray

Gregor and his sister

have key roles to play

An overland warrior

in search of his dad

There isn't much doubt

that the future looks bad

The roaches are friends;

he can ride on a bat

But the spiders attack

at the drop of a hat

The rats are the worst,

always ready to fight

But one old wise rodent

can help with their plight

A dozen begin,

but not all live to tell

This enchanting tale

with a sewer-y smell

I'm telling you now,

and I'll tell you again

Buy this one now,

then The Prophecy of Bane.

Amanda Richards, August 24, 2005
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VINE VOICEon August 22, 2007
I was having some serious Harry Potter withdrawals when I happened to look upon this book. I don't know what exactly made me pick it up, but after reading the back cover I thought I would give it a try. I absolutely loved it. I grew up fascinated by the movie "journey to the center of the earth" and Alice in wonderland. This book is a wonderful melding of the two. Gregor, who is 11, lives with his mom and two sisters, his father has been missing for years. One day, after his sister goes to camp and his mother off to work, he is left in charge of his two year old sister Boots. He isn't remiss about the responsibility, he actually really adores her. They head on down to the laundry room, where boots somehow falls into a hole, of course he follows her and they go down, down, down, down, into the underlands, into the unknown. They are met by gigantic roaches (crawlers), which happens to be my biggest fear! The roaches are about to trade them to the rats (gnawers), when they catch a whiff of Boots diaper and think she MUST be a princess to smell that yummy. So they take them to the Underlanders, who are humans that ride sentient giant Bats (flyers) and are told they cannot go back to the topside. Gregor, of course, thinks otherwise and after trying to escape and failing, is told of a prophecy, and he is thought to be the warrior they have been waiting for. He also figures out that his father, is being held prisoner by the rats and thus begins an amazing Quest. I was so pleasantly intrigued, and held captivated by this story. Even though it's a short one, 311 pages, it is packed with adventure, humor, and heart wrenching peril. I NEVER thought I would learn to love roaches, but after reading this I might think twice about squashing them. There are 5 books in this series, and that makes me a happy girl, and even though this is written for 4-5 graders, it has enough substance to make this 34 year old want more.
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on July 19, 2013
Being a retired English teacher, I love it when former students recommend books for me to read. This series is one of those that several of my former students, some who are now teachers themselves, have recommended to me. Suzanne Collins, the author of "The Hunger Games," wrote this series prior to writing her very popular "Hunger Games" series. Written at a lower reading level than "The Hunger Games," most likely Middle School level, "The Underland Chronicles" is still a delightful series for young and old alike. Collins' ability to create character is strong in both series; the reader becomes involved and cares about what happens to the characters. The settings are dark, but so very unique.

Gregor, trying to find his two-year old sister Boots who suddenly disappeared while in the laundry room in their apartment, follows her through a grate in the wall of the laundry room, and they fall into a strange, dark world beneath the city - Underland. There he discovers a strange world with talking giant rats, spiders, cock roaches, bats and more, all who have a tenuous coexistence with the humans of the Underland. The peace is fragile, and soon he discovers that he may be a part of a strange prophecy about Underland's future existence. Young Gregor is not your typical hero; after all, he is only eleven years old. He wants no part of a conflict; he just wants to take Boots and find his way home. Gregor has no way of knowing that the quest he will undertake with others will save Underland, but it will also change him forever.

Although plot elements like the "quest" and the resolution of the prophecy were predictable, the story line kept you moving forward. The plot is solid and unique, and if you are not careful, you could read it in one sitting. As mentioned before, Collins' ability to create memorable characters is an amazing strength of hers as a writer; still, although it is written for younger readers, characters do die in the story - characters about whom the reader likes as well. "Gregor the Overlander" is a wonderful series; I highly recommend it for all ages. Although it is dark and violent in places, it is a series that one can share with children or grandchildren. We gave our granddaughter the entire set for her birthday.
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on August 13, 2011
Having read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins in a matter of days, I bought the first book in the Underland Chronicles series. I was hoping to find another great series. This is not a book for you if you are looking for something like the Hunger Games! The story told in this imaginary world is OK, but not gripping. I will not be reading the other books in the series.

As a caveat, I feel I need to say that I am not a young adult reader, being in my 20s. If you are buying the book for a teenager, this might not be the review for you.
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