When eleven-year-old Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats--but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.
Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. He just wants to find his way home. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland's uncertain future, he realizes it might be the only way to solve the biggest mystery of his life. Little does he know his quest will change him and the Underland forever.
Rich in suspense and brimming with adventure, Suzanne Collins's debut marked a thrilling new talent, and introduced a character no young reader will ever forget.
I'm going to take a stand and say that Suzanne Collins is the only author capable of making me feel deep sadness at the death of a cockroach. Her authorial talent is boundless!
But really, I'm serious. Collins managed to create a well-formed world that lurks miles beneath NYC, populated by the kind of creatures you'd expect--rats, bats, roaches, spiders. Oh, and extremely pale humans with purple eyes. (I've always wanted purple eyes! Maybe I should move to the Underland.) More than just creating a world, Collins makes her readers care for it. None of her creatures are cuddly, but still I loved them, grieved for them, and cheered for them.
Gregor himself is a wonderful protagonist. He feels very much like a young boy, albiet one who has had to grow up too fast. He takes care of his little sister Boots, but he also gets fed up with her. He wants to save his dad, but he feels overwhelmed by the title of "Warrior." If he were real, I would definitely want him to be my best friend, I don't even care about the age difference.
Sometimes I feel like Collins is just messing with the world. "You think a book about a dark and creepy place filled with massive bugs won't sell? Watch this! You think a book about kids killing each other for others' entertainment won't sell? Watch this!" Then she conquers the world. And I welcome it.
Four out of five mysterious prophecies.
Release Date: August 2004
Reading Level: Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL COL
Don't believe me? Check out these reviews of Gregor the Overlander:
The World's Strongest Librarian