Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles #01) by Suzanne Collins
Reviewed by David Hannon
One day while eleven-year-old Gregor and his baby sister Margaret (aka Boots) are retrieving clothes from their apartment's laundry room, Boots slips through an open grate in the wall and vanishes. Having no choice but to give chase, Gregor jumps in after her. Awaiting them at the bottom of a long and mysterious free fall is a strange and secret world known to its inhabitants as the Underland.
Once they arrive Gregor realizes that this place has big plans for him and little Boots. To Underlanders, Gregor isn't just a normal eleven-year-old boy, he is a warrior, and his sister a princess. It seems that long ago in the Underland city of Regalia, a prophecy was written about two Overlanders who would one day complete an important quest. Gregor and Boots fit the bill and undertake the journey with a group of Underlanders, bats, spiders, cockroaches, and one exceptionally mean rat named Ripred. With all of the animals in the Underland being ten times their normal size, the bunch is a formidable one; however, their enemy is just as fierce and will stop at nothing to extinguish the Underlanders and their allies forever.
Forced to participate, Gregor slowly begins to learn the ways of the Underland, how to fight, how to properly ride a bat, and most importantly how to keep Boots safe in a completely bizarre and unpredictable environment. As his journey continues, Gregor becomes aware that his quest to help the Underlanders might also reveal clues into his father's disappearance. Missing for more than two years, Gregor's father was thought to have run out on the family, but could there be another explanation? Gregor intends to find out, no matter how perilous or shocking the outcome.
Written by Suzanne Collins, Gregor the Overlander is the first in a five-book series that exceeds expectations throughout. Held steady by the uniqueness of the story and the characters, it's a must-read for anyone between the ages of ten and one hundred and ten. Well crafted and having a tendency to surprise, The Underland Chronicles are a worthwhile diversion from the everyday.