Customer Reviews: The Underland Chronicles #4: Gregor and the Marks of Secret
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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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on May 14, 2006
...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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on October 14, 2006
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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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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on July 23, 2006
I've really enjoyed reading the underland chronicles. Until this book came out my favorit in the series was "Gregor and the Phrophecy of Bane" but now this is my favorit. Alot of other reviews has kinda told you what happened so I won't repeat it. instead i'll tell you what i think of the book. I think this book is really great. In this book a little romance kinda breacks out. Luxa and Gregor. It also ends with a real hanging ending. I can't wait till the next one! oh and by the way this book says that it is for ages 9 to 12 I wouldn't say that is true. I mean i'm 14 year old boy and I still enjoy reading them. ther're pretty easy reading but very enjoyable. My one problem with this book is Boots. In the first one it seamed kinda stupid to bring Boots on the mission. on the second even dummer since the rats are purposly trieing to kill her. on the third, well let's face it, what could she possibley do to find a cure? and in the fourth she does absulutly nothing except. like someone else said you can only take so many "hi you" or "Ge-gor" it is really dumb and reacks the attempt to make it relistic. This is still a great book it's just Boots can get REALLY anoying.

Once again I highly reccomed getting this book but read the other three books first.

Mikey Lamb

River Falls, WI, USA

Age 14
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on December 29, 2015
Gregor returns to the Underland to visit his mother and for lessons with Ripred. When a nibbler sends Luxa’s crown (a coded message that they need help), Gregor, Luxa, Boots, Hazard, and Howard along with four bats and Temp head out on a “picnic” (really, to investigate what is going on with the nibblers). They discover the gnawers are now being led by the Bane and attempting to eliminate the nibblers.

This fourth book of the Gregor the Overlander series is dedicated to setting up the final book. The feel of the entire thing is a bit darker than the previous books. The pattern established in books one through three is completely broken in this one. The end is quite depressing and makes you want to move right on to book five.
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on September 9, 2006
This book was wonderful. I would strongly advise it for children 11+ because it has some voilence, war, and death. If you have not read the entire series, you should. This is not a good starting place. I learned about the series through my school's book of the year. This series was on a shelf so I checked out the entire series. As a word of caution, you won't be able to put this series down. I was reading all weekend. In this book, it picks up from the last where Gregor's mom is still recovering. As he sets out with Luxa to fufill another prophecy, the two become closer, As Gregor gets older the story becomes more difficult for younger children to understand. I read this book and reliezed it is not a Harry Potter Charlie Bone rip off. This book is just more mature. This would be a great book for gifted/taleted readers. Strongly advise it to anyone 11+.
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on April 6, 2016
I loved this book just like I loved the 3 before it. I feel a bit bad for boots as she keeps getting into these situations. All in all I never would have dreamed I would enjoy a book about underground creatures like spiders and cockroaches, but this whole series has intrigued me and I just can't put it down.
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on July 22, 2006
For the fourth time, Gregor, who found another civilization in a laundry room grate, goes into the Underland and this time finds himself in an uncanny situation.

At a birthday party for Luxa's younger brother, Hazard, Luxa receives a message from the nibblers (mice). Luxa, who credits them with saving her life, is determined to find out what is wrong. She sets out with Gregor, Hazard, Boots, and Howard. Gregor is happy that there is no prophesy involved until it is revealed that there is one more prophesy which Gregor has yet to fulfill. With a shocking ending this story has a cliffhanger like all the rest. I can't wait to read the next one!
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on August 3, 2006
This book was quite amazing. Suzanne Collins really leaves you on edge with all the questions that need to be answered. Gregor is left doing things he never would have done as an ordinary kid his age. Gregor along with Boots, Hazard and Luxa all really shouldn't have to see the Hitler like plot going on in the Bane's wicked plan. i could not put the book down. Is the nibblers request more than just a plea for help or is Gregor going to be forced to do something just as crazy as jumping into a black pit with hundreds of rats chasing after him?

Read the other books before even laying hands on this one. It will hardly make sense otherwise.
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