Suzanne Collins – Gregor the Overlander
Read By: Paul Boehmer
Length: 6h 34m (312 pages)
Genre: Mid-Grade Fantasy
Started: 17 July 2012
Finished: 19 July 2012
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Recommended by a coworker.
I don’t know if I
could ally with cockroaches,
even to fight rats.
Summary: Eleven year old Gregor has been stuck taking care of his baby sister, Boots, for most of the time since his father disappeared two years before. When she falls down a hole in the laundry room, Gregor really has no choice but to go after her… which is how they find themselves far underground, facing four-feet-tall talking cockroaches. The cockroaches are only one type of creature that inhabits the Underland, and they soon bring Gregor and Boots to a human population that’s been living down there for centuries. Gregor’s anxious to return to the surface, but even if he could find his way, there are the rats to worry about – rats that have been at odds with the humans for a generation. The humans want Gregor to stay, because they think that he might be the answer to an ancient prophecy. Gregor certainly doesn’t feel like a great warrior, but when he finds out that his father might still be alive, and stuck in the Underland, he might not have a choice.
Review: Mid-grade fantasy adventure can go either way for me. Some of it is fun, funny, and fast-paced, but sometimes I just don’t connect with the humor, or the language or plot just skews too juvenile for my taste. Luckily, Gregor the Overlander was much more in the former camp. Sure, some parts of the plot were pretty predictable, and the resolution came a little too quickly and easily for my tastes. But Collins does deliver on an imaginative, interesting world, a fast-paced action story, and some interesting character choices both for Gregor and some of the secondary characters. (Also, she manages to make the giant cockroaches likeable, which is a feat all of its own, because: ew!)
Overall, I definitely enjoyed listening to this; it kept me engaged and wanting to listen to more. It didn’t quite match up to The Lightning Thief, which is my new standard for excellent mid-grade fiction. Gregor the Overlander just wasn’t as detailed and its humor wasn’t as sophisticated; I think because it’s actually geared for a younger age bracket, despite the protagonists being almost the same age. So, while I didn’t absolutely love it, I thought it was enough fun to be interested in continuing to read the sequels. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Except for the quick pace, this book doesn’t share a lot of similarities with The Hunger Games, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it just because it’s written by Collins. However, it’s a fun, fast, and imaginative little book, and worth picking up if you’re in the mood for some reliably enjoyable fantasy adventure.
Other Reviews: The Book Frog, Good Books and Good Wine, Let’s Eat Grandpa!, My Friend Amy and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
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First Line: Gregor had pressed his forehead against the screen for so long, he could feel a pattern of tiny checks above his eyebrows.
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