Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins

Book Jacket

In the fourth volume of the critically acclaimed Underland Chronicles, Gregor is drawn ever deeper into a brewing crisis.  For generations, rats have fun the mice--or "nibblers"--out of whatever lands they've claimed, keeping them constantly on the move.  But not the mice are disappearing, and the young queen Luxa, who credits them with saving her life, is determined to find out why.

When Gregor joins her on a fact-finding mission, he's relieved that this time, at least, there's no prophecy on the line.  But when the true fate of the mice is revealed, it is something far more sinister than Gregor or Luxa have imagined--and it points the way to the final prophecy he has yet to fulfill.  Gregor's role as warrior and his abilities as a rager are put to the test in this suspenseful, action-packed penultimate installment of Suzanne Collins's thrilling Underland Chronicles.


One of the reasons I love fantasy is that by telling real-world stories in a fantasy-setting, emotions can run deeper or take us by surprise.  So it is with the fourth Gregor book, where we get tyrannical dictators and genocide.  This is unfortunately an all too common occurance in our past and present.  So common that often news of another genocide just becomes daily news.  But take it into the Underworld and play it out between rats and mice?  Suddenly I am a ball of emotion.  The key, of course, is to then take that emotion and drive to action from fantasy back into reality. 

Gregor is still awesomesauce.  In this book, his relationship with Luxa is fleshed out a bit.  Ah, young love!  With about a kajillion obstacles.  Which is just how I like my made-up romances.

I love Collins because of her unflinching look at war and peace.  Gregor is decidedly a pacifist....who is also a Rager (think best warrior x20).  He keeps getting into situations where he has to fight, but he hates it.  And he takes every moment possible to jump to peaceful resolutions, or realizes belatedly that talking might have been best.  There is no easy answer here.  As we head into the last book, a massive war is in the making.  The people and animals of Regalia can't just let the rats wipe everybody out, right?  That would be wrong.  But is violence also wrong? 

Collins never lets her readers fall into any easy belief, but rather challenges us to think deeply and painfully about what is right and wrong.  All the while telling a really entertaining adventure story.  That is skill indeed.

Four out of five nursery songs.

Release Date:  May 2007
Reading Level: Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL COL

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