July 28, 2007

Gregor the Overlander - by Suzanne Collins

This incredible book begins with 11-year-old Gregor feeling sour about having to babysit his two-year old sister, Boots, instead of going to summer camp. If only his dad hadn't disappeared two years earlier, leaving his mom to care for their family by herself. The plot takes a major turn as Gregor and his little sister accidentally fall through a loose grate in their laundry room, falling nearly forever into the great unknown, much like Alice on her way to Wonderland. Far from Wonderland, though, Gregor soon discovers not only are he and Boots in a place called the Underworld, filled with all sorts of creatures like the giant cockroaches that capture them, but that there may actually be a reason he is there. Among the giant bats, spiders, rats, and cockroaches is a community of humans, who reveal a strange prophecy that will change Gregor's life forever.

This is the first book in the Underland Chronicles series, and is a captivating read. The characters set off on a quest much like other fantasty stories (such as Lord of the Rings, Rowan of Rin, A Wrinkle in Time, Dragon Rider, Eragon), but this journey depends on the cooperation and trust of an odd collection of creatures who would normally never trust one another. There are traitors, heroes, battles, but no magic. The real scene-stealer in this book is young Boots, who not only turns out to be an important hero in her own right, but whose silly baby talk is just as hilarious as Sunny's in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Read this book if you love adventure, hero tales, fantasy, quests, of if you've ever wondered what may happen if you fell into a sewer and kept going. It's not an easy book (similar in difficulty to Dragon Rider), but is much easier than Eragon.