Underland Chronicles: A Book Review

U is for Underland Chronicles

Before Suzanne Collins ever became known for her Hunger Games Trilogy, she wrote a fantasy adventure series called the Underland Chronicles.

Gregor the Overlander

Meet Gregor, a kid from New York City, who falls out of his laundry room into a fantastical subterranean world called the Underland. Accompanied by his toddler sister, Boots, he encounters giant talking creatures– cockroaches, bats, spiders and rats–and an unusual society of humans. And they’re all expecting him…(Scholastic Press, 2003)

Gregor & the Prophecy of Bane

When giant roaches kidnap Boots and spirit her back to the Underland, Gregor follows to retrieve her. Soon he discovers that they are both implicated in “The Prophecy of Bane,” which warns of the dangers of a terrifying white rat. Guess whose job it is to destroy it? (Scholastic Press, 2004)

Gregor & the Curse of the Warmbloods

Gregor and Boots must return to the Underland to help find a cure for a deadly plague called the Curse of the Warmbloods. Gregor is desperate to succeed because, along with several of his Underland friends, a member of his own family is stricken. (Scholastic Press, 2005)

Gregor & the Marks of Secret

Gregor sets out to solve a mystery involving the Underland mice and ends up discovering a terrible secret. This book leads right into the fifth and final book of the series, “Gregor and the Code of Claw.”

Gregor & the Code of Claw

Everyone in the Underland has been taking great pains to keep The Prophecy of Time from Gregor. Gregor knows it must say something awful but he never imagined just how awful: It calls for the warrior’s death. Now, with an army of rats approaching, and his mom and sister still in Regalia, Gregor the warrior must gather up his courage to help defend Regalia and get his family home safely. The entire existence of the Underland is in Gregor’s hands, and time is running out. There is a code to be cracked, a mysterious new princess, Gregor’s burgeoning dark side, and a war to end all wars.

My Review

I became an instant fan of the series when I discovered the audiobook version of Gregor the Overlander. After that, I immediately started looking for the next book. Lucky for me, all five books had been published by the time I started listening to it.

I was at once enamored with Gregor and his sister Boots. Gregor is a regular kid with very big problems. His father had disappeared years back and left his mother to care for and provide for him and his two younger sisters. Gregor could’ve used this as an excuse to act up, but instead, he becomes a responsible kid and helps in caring for his siblings. But like every normal kid, he has a secret wish for his father to come back and to save them all from their poor existence.

His childlike desire to be reunited with his father and his grown-up way of caring for his baby sister is heart-warming and endearing. The adventure that befalls him and his baby sister Boots is, on the other hand, dangerous and exciting.

Throughout the course of his many adventures, Gregor continues to grow as a human being, and to mature in wisdom and strength. Suzanne Collins, ever the master storyteller, has done a great job of creating complicated, and memorable characters—human or otherwise. It’s hard not to get emotionally invested in each character’s personal crisis.

The plot just continued to grow and improve throughout each book. I never found my attentions waning, as the storylines were just riveting. There was always some new twist, and some unexpected turn; and the adventures Gregor and his friends keep getting thrown into are always fresh and exciting.

The books do get progressively darker, as they touch on the politics of territory and the violence of war. These issues are seen through the eyes of the young protagonist Gregor, and through his experience the readers are made to realize just how futile and utterly devastating war is.

More than this, however, the themes of friendship, family and relationships make readers realize just what is really important in life.

This is a great series for families to read together. Boys will enjoy the action-packed fantasy adventures of Gregor in the subterranean Underland, while girls might enjoy the emotional thrill of guessing whether Gregor and his friend Luxa (and later on love interest) might eventually get together. Parents might also make use of the books to discuss its various themes of war, strife, friendships, love and family.


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12 Responses to “Underland Chronicles: A Book Review”

  1. Clever way to use this for U. Excellent review.

    I’ll admit I like this series better than The Hunger Games series, mainly because the protagonist has proper growth. He realizes the consequences of who has become better by the end.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    In discussing literature with a friend of mine, who is a published author, he gave me some interesting insights into the minds of child readers. One thing he said stuck, boys will read about boys, they will lose interest in reading about girls. Girls, on the other hand will enjoy stories about boys and girls. I don’t know how true this may be, but do know from my own reading that I too prefer to read about the adventures of boys as opposed to girls. Very interesting that you seem to have mentioned the same trait in your review, even if in other words.
    Blessings, Geoff.

  3. I did not know she wrote another series before Hunger Games. I would imagine this sparked an interest and rising sales in these books.

  4. Hart Johnson says:

    Oh, I wanted to read these, but my son (the younger of my two) seemed to think he was too old when we started. i think they sound like great books. I will try to pick up time to get to them one of these days.

  5. Didn’t even know Collins had written anything else before the Hunger Games. It looks like quite a substantial series.

  6. Brinda says:

    This series sounds terrific. And I love that line in the first blurb about the humans waiting for him.

  7. I wish they’d had such cool stories when I was a kid.
    We had Christopher Pike and RL Stein as well as the usual suspects…Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High…
    but nothing like this.
    Nothing as entertaining and thought provoking as this.
    Great post.

  8. Simon Kewin says:

    They sound fun – oh no, more books I need to read!

  9. A.F.E. Smith says:

    Oooh, I didn’t know these books existed! Sounds like I might have to give them a try.

  10. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell .. I don’t know either the book, the author or the film – but know that it’s hit the ground running ..

    I love the look of the books – great draw in .. cheers Hilary

  11. I’ve been curious about this series for a while. Glad to hear that you liked it! I might try to hunt it down one day and read it then.

  12. I’ve never written a review before, but having been asked recently to give it a go, I thought I’d see how it’s done by a pro! While NOT a fan of sci fi/fantasy, your piece made me want to read the books! I’ve learned a lot from you already – thanks! I especially liked your bit about families reading the stories together – could just see me reading this to my boys when they were little and know they would have totally loved it the excitement of it, and I would’ve loved to see them get so involved that they couldn’t wait to see what happened next! Again, my thanks!

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