Suzanne Collins – Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
Read By: Paul Boehmer
Length: 7h 48m (358 pages)
Genre: Mid-grade fantasy adventure
Started: 28 March 2014
Finished: 08 April 2014
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? This series is typically solidly enjoyable, and I was in the mood for something that didn’t require too much brain power.
Getting sick is no
fun, but exploding purple
pustules? They’re worse.
Summary: Gregor has been puzzling over the Prophecy of Blood since he returned from the Underland. It seems to predict dire things happening, and that both he and his baby sister Boots will need to return to the Underland, but Gregor knows that his mother will never let him go again – and certainly not Boots. Gregor receives a message from Vikus, telling him of a terrible and deadly plague that’s infected warm-blooded animals across the Underland – including Gregor’s bat, Ares – and asking him to attend a meeting of the Underlanders regarding what’s to be done about finding a cure. Gregor’s mom doesn’t want to allow even that much, but after Ripred send an army of rats to “convince” her, she agrees – but only on the condition that she be allowed to accompany Gregor and Boots to the meeting. But of course, things don’t exactly go as planned, and soon it becomes more important than ever to find a cure for the plague, even if it means Gregor will have to venture out into the wilds of the Underland once again.
Review: I enjoyed this book, but I found it pretty dark compared to the first two books, and particularly compared to other mid-grade fantasy adventure stories. There were a lot of interesting themes brought up: war, and pacifism, and prejudice, and how ethical boundaries can get redefined in the interest of security and in the heat of battle, and how these things can tear families apart. They’re all presented in a way that’s age-appropriate and organic to the story, but I was still a little surprised to have what is ostensibly a kid’s book bring up biological warfare, y’know?
As far as the storyline goes, this one was pretty good. Plenty of action, and several good plot twists. Plus, the answer to the prophecy made sense but was non-obvious, which is always appreciated. Character-wise, I was less interested in Gregor’s struggle to deal with his “Rager” nature, but Boots (who is now old enough to speak in sentences) was pretty great, and I thought the secondary characters were really interesting (Hamnet and his backstory and his relationships in particular). The audio production was also good; either Paul Boehmer has toned down his habit of speaking in exclamations that bothered me in the first few books, or else I’ve gotten used to it, but the audiobook seemed a little more mature than the first two – which is actually true about the book as a whole as well. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Background context would obviously be lost reading this one on its own, but it actually works okay as a stand-alone; at least, it had been a long time since I read the first two, and most of the details had fled my brain, and I still followed along with no problems. The series as a whole is solidly good mid-grade fantasy adventure fare, and should be enjoyable by kids of both sexes, and adults who are in the mood for something fun but not overly challenging.
First Line: Gregor stared in the bathroom mirror for a minute, steeling himself.
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