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Gregor And The Marks Of Secret (Underland Chronicles, Book Four) Hardcover – May 1, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 346 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–No good deed goes unpunished in the fourth installment in the popular series. Gregor and his sister Boots are regular visitors to Underland, where their mother is slowly recovering from injuries incurred in the previous episode. Gregor is supposed to be studying echolocation with his rat friend, Ripred the Gnawer, but hes doing very badly. Ripred has his own problems, largest of which is Bane, the once-sweet little baby Gnawer whom the protagonist refused to kill in Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (Scholastic, 2004). Bane, now a half-grown monster of a rat, is surprisingly charismatic yet emotionally stunted and easily controlled by the forces of evil. When Queen Luxa gets a message that the mice that saved her life in the jungle are in trouble, she and Gregor head out to investigate, accompanied by her cousin Howard, several bats, Gregors sisters, and a brave cockroach named Temp. The breathless pace, intense drama, and extraordinary challenges will leave fans clamoring for the conclusion of this fine series.–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Starred
In this penultimate volume in "The Underland Chronicles," Collins begins to gather herself for the grand finale. Gregor has been taking echolocation lessons with Ripred, the charismatic and violent outlaw rat, and after one session he introduces Gregor to Bane, the white-rat pup Gregor spared in defiance of prophecy (Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, 2004). Bane is now some eight feet tall and still growing, and thoroughly, dangerously mad. Shortly after this introduction, both Ripred and Bane go missing, and Queen Luxa discovers that mice who succored her in the jungle (Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, 2005) have also disappeared, leaving only one enigmatic Mark and Hazard, Gregor's little sister Boots and the faithful cockroach Tornp. A customarily eventful trip through Hades Hall to the Firelands leads the band to both the mice and Bane, who has his own Final Solution in mind for the entire mouse race. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers gasping as Gregor goes chasing another prophecy, the direst yet.

Horn Book
Suzanne Collins Gregor and the Marks of Secret: Book Four in the Underland Chronicles
341 pp. Scholastic 5/06 ISBN 0-439-79145-6 $16.99 g
"So this is how a war starts.... Not with two armies facing off, waiting for the signal to charge.... It begins much more quietly. In a room, on a field, in a remote tunnel when someone who has power decides the time has come." In this fourth installment, twelve-year-old Gregor returns to the bizarre subterranean land of archaic violet-eyed humans and giant rodents, bats, insects, and other creatures. He and his fellow Underland battle veterans set out to answer a call for help from the mice, and their quest leads to some grim discoveries -- including an abandoned mouse colony, symbols of death etched in stone and blood, and, most gruesome of all, a mass grave. Collins keeps the tension and the stakes high;
vivid description, expert pacing, and subtle character development all enhance this gripping fantasy adventure. At the conclusion, we leave Gregor heading into what promises to be an interspecies conflict of epic proportions. "Who would he be...if he survived?" Readers will have to wait for the fifth (and final?) book to find out. K.F.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: Underland Chronicles (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439791456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439791458
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (346 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Book four of the Underland Chronicles deals with some pretty dark stuff. It picks up the story not long after the end of book three, with Gregor’s mom still recovering in Regalia, and Gregor unwillingly continuing his echolocation lessons with Ripred the Rat.

Gregor and Boots are regular visitors down below, but things take a bad turn when Luxa receives a distress signal from the nibblers while the friends are enjoying a birthday party for their friend Hazard. Gregor and Luxa try to slip away undetected to investigate, but their plans are foiled and the expedition is forced to become a group picnic, complete with children and the ever present shrimp salad.

Gregor is relieved that for this adventure at least he is not under pressure as the key figure of a prophecy, but learns that things are not always as they seem. He encounters the fast growing Bane, and is deeply troubled by the Hitler-like aspirations of the white rat - but even more troubling is his inability to master either echolocation or the rage that transforms him into a warrior.

Although still written in age-appropriate language, within this book lies violence, death, erupting volcanoes, poison gas, deadly creatures, the genocide of a species, and the outset of war. In addition, like that other embattled hero, Harry Potter, Gregor’s hormones are beginning to warm up with similarly awkward results.

To fully appreciate this book, you’d be better off reading books one through three first, but be warned that the ending of this one tantalizingly sets the stage for the final installment “Code of Claw”, which unfortunately isn’t expected until 2007.

Amanda Richards, May 28, 2006
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Format: Hardcover
...who is hopelessly obsessed with the Gregor series? The only one who puts signs up all over her bedroom announcing RIPRED RULES? The only one who has a bat drawn on the mug-coaster next to her bed? The only one who painstakingly drew computer backgrounds of Hazard and Thalia, Luxa and Aurora, Gregor and Ares, Vikus and Whatshisname, and all the other bats and humans? (I also did a wallpaper of Boots and Temp, since she doesn't have a bond). The only one who would willingly wear a self-made RIPRED RULES or OFF RIDING MY BAT T-shirt to school if the said school didn't have uniforms? The only one who even cares that Gregor and Luxa like each other, that Ripred's the greatest rat EVER -- am I the only one who is completely head-over-heels obsessed with this series?

But even through my highly unscientific lenses of obsessed reader, this book was marvelous. Ripred's pitiful condition but eternal sarcasm and hysterical remarks, and Gregor's awkward relationship with Luxa were all great, but I think my favorite part was at the end, when Ripred notices Gregor's feelings about Luxa. (This is paraphrased, forgive me if a word's misplaced.)

"Don't bother," said Gregor. "I know what you'll say. The whole thing's stupid."
"Quite the contrary," said Ripred. "I was going to say that life is short. There are only a few good things in it, really. Don't pretend that one of them isn't happening."
It was absolutely the most un-Ripred-like thing Gregor could have imagined.

Yeah, that was my favorite part. I also really liked how the author incorporated the horrors of the Holocaust into the story, to give us Overlanders, who could easily feel nothing for the nibblers as there were never any prominent mice characters, some sort of parallel.

Rating: Very Good
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Format: Hardcover
This is the 4th book in the Gregor The Underland Chronicles series. My granddaughter continually reminds me to check for the next volume of this particular book series as she loves the adventure. She began reading the series when she was 11. She is now 12 and is as much excited about the Gregor books as she was from the beginning. I've already been asked to check for the 5th book in the series, which I understand is arriving in early 2007.

My suggestion would be to make sure to start with the first book in the series as each new book picks up where the other left off leaving readers in suspense and wanting the next book right away. I've listed each title and book number below to help readers and those searching for the next volume as most do not list volume number in the title search.

Suzanne Collins has caught the attraction of kids in this series of fantasy adventures which leaves them only wanting more! I highly recommend this book.

Below are titles and volume numbers for each book in this series:





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Format: Hardcover
The "Marks of Secret" is a powerful contribution to the already excellent Gregor series. Although Suzanne Collins operates on a smaller scale (and is less interested in the kind of digressions that can flesh out the world and the characters she describes) the Gregor books are every bit as exciting -- with characters who matter and endlessly surprising plots -- as the Harry Potter books. As with J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books that use the magical world as a "safe" dimension within which young people can confront and think about real world problems, the Underland Chronicles raise important questions about violence and war, about the nature of evil, about tyranny and genocide (but also about friendship and love, loyalty and respect, honesty and care) in ways that convey the horror (and importance) of such things but without being overwhelming (or preachy) to young readers. These books would probably be ideal for about the 10-15 age group -- though of course I couldn't wait to get through it as I read it in four nights with my 10 year old daughter. This one is probably the most intense (and darkest) of the lot -- especially as it depicts the rise of a fascistic Rat leader -- but it is never oppressive or dull. The only disappointment was coming to the end. While all the other books felt like they could be continued but were in a way complete, this one clearly ends on a cliffhanger (when I said "The End" my daughter thought I was joking, that it couldn't stop there! and then she started looking at the publication dates of the other Gregor books to try and figure out how long it would take for the next one to appear!) -- if you are impatient like me and my daughter, maybe you should wait until this one comes out in paperback so that at least you will finish much closer to the publication date of the next novel!
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