Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles #1) by Suzanne Collins (2003)
Middle Grade Fiction | FantasyBlurb:
“This irresistible first novel tells the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny — and find his father — in a strange world beneath New York City.
When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.”
pooled ink Review:
Woo-hoo! Juvenile Fiction! So whilst I am writing this review years after reading this book I still remember how I felt about it…actually it’s on my bookshelf still so I could just go re-read it and then write a review…
Anyway, I remember distinctly thoroughly enjoying this book. No lie. I’d go re-read it right now if I didn’t have a stack of new books to read first. I was in fourth grade, a mere kid on the hunt for a book at my elementary school’s Scholastic Book Fair (I LOVED those days. Best of the school year) and I came across Gregor the Overlander. I held onto it but wasn’t about to commit until I’d scoured all the tables and shelves. My mom only gave me enough money for one or maybe two books so as a kid this was a big life decision. I remember reading the back cover over and over and flipping it open but then promptly shutting it in case I did decide to buy it because I didn’t want to peek ahead and ruin anything. I looked at bookmarks and colorful pencil toppers. I looked at anime, magazines, and books that came with jewelry. But alas, it was meant to be. I bought Gregor the Overlander and have not regretted it since.
This book built a fantastical world existing just beneath our own. My nine year old self was swept away on Gregor’s adventures and yearned to be graced with the presence of a portal to a fantastical world just like he had. I met interesting creatures (although I really don’t like spiders), characters, and places. It lit up my imagination like a floodlight or an EDM rave. I had so much fun reading it that I read it multiple times over and wished that there were more books to follow it up (yeah…turns out there are! Five books in the series to be exact. But the internet wasn’t what it is now and I didn’t have a car nor a drivers license to take myself to bookstores so I had no idea until years later when I found out that the Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games was the same Suzanne Collins of Gregor the Overlander and my mind was blown).
This book is Juvenile Fiction and I’d highly recommend it for kids but ya know what? I’d still recommend it for teens with a child’s heart and a vast imagination. I guess times are changing so maybe there isn’t enough soppy romance or bloody fighting but I still support this book because it was another milestone in my childhood that kept me on the path of reading.
Purchase here: Gregor the Overlander
Similar Recommended Reads: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Meet Suzanne Collins!
Since 1991, Suzanne Collins has been busy writing for children’s television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. For preschool viewers, she penned multiple stories for the Emmy-nominated Little Bear and Oswald. She also co-wrote the critically acclaimed Rankin/Bass Christmas special, Santa, Baby! Most recently she was the Head Writer for Scholastic Entertainment’s Clifford’s Puppy Days.
While working on a Kids WB show called Generation O! she met children’s author James Proimos, who talked her into giving children’s books a try.
She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and a pair of feral kittens they adopted from their backyard.