Gregor the Overlander

Gregor the Overlander Book Review

By Zack Hersh

While Suzanne Collins is best known for her best selling “The Hunger Games” trilogy, her book “Gregor the Overlander” was written before that trilogy, and explores the fantasy side of Collins’ writing. And, like “The Hunger Games”, the New York Times and USA Weekly bestselling “Gregor the Overlander” does not disappoint readers who are ready to fasten their seatbelts.

This adventurous, exciting novel is about an eleven-year-old boy name Gregor.  He is what you would call an ‘ordinary kid’, but like to most things, there is more than meets the eye. He lives in a small New York City apartment with his Mom, 7 year old sister, baby sister, and their grandma since the mysterious disappearance of his father two years prior. Gregor follows his 2-year-old sister, Boots, through a grate in the laundry room of their apartment building, and they fall into the “Underland” below. 

It is here where a human population lives in a delicate peace with giant roaches, bats, rats, and spiders. All that concerned Gregor was getting home, until the Rat Army, led by King Gorger, declared war on the humans, and an ancient prophecy foretold of a role for Gregor to help restore peace to Underland. Accompanied by two giant roaches, two giant bats, two giant spiders, and the Princess of Underland, he sets out on a quest to fulfill the prophecy and restore peace to the Underland.  Along the way, he may run into familiar faces and discover new things he never knew about himself.

The conflict in this story is intense and tangled, a spiderweb of plot. Between Gregor’s futile attempt to return home, the Rats battling the humans, and everything  else along the way, the conflict will keep readers hooked from the beginning. One way to describe the conflict is Person versus Person, or, in this case, People versus People, with one group of people being the questers and the humans and the other group being the Rat forces. But, the story is about so much more than that. It’s about adventure, friendship, and trust. It’s about trying to complete a brutal quest while at the same time taking care of a baby. While struggling to get along with each other. While struggling to survive. It’s about how the most unlikely of people can be the biggest heroes. And, those willing to indulge in this book will find the Underland an exciting and mystical place to be. 

Gregor is not the only main character in the story. The Princess of the humans,  and a deft, fierce warrior, Luxa, is also a highlighted character. While struggling to get along with Gregor, she helps and battles on the quest in any way she can. Without her presence, their journey would have been much different.  

The other main character is Boots, Gregor baby sister, and my favorite character.  She likes and is liked by everyone, and tries to be friends with everybody, oblivous to the danger that surrounds them. She accompanies her brother on the quest while being revered as “royalty” by the two giant cockroaches. She is always cheery and can make you smile, but sometimes, the other characters forget that she is only two, and is still a baby, and this might cost them on their journey.

Despite the stellar quality of the book, I feel it is hard for me and other readers to relate to the book. Nobody would find themselves in Gregor’s situation. Because of the fantasy nature of the book, most of the scenes aren’t relevant to people’s lives. However, I believe that this aspect adds to the book. Its fantastic qualities make it very exciting knowing that these things couldn’t just happen in everyday life. This quality is one of the many reasons I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and Collins‘ writing has yet to disappoint me. It was exciting and thrilling, with the perfect mix of dialogue and action, a distinct strength of the book. It is hard to get the perfect balance, but this book hits it home. Collins also has a great way of describing and writing action scenes so that it’s engaging and the reader really gets a vivid picture of what’s happening. She has a perfect way of mixing dialogue into and with these action scenes, and this is present in every action scene in the book.

It is quite difficult to pinpoint weaknesses in the book. Almost everything was excellent and almost every quality of the book was incredible and engaging. The only thing that fell short was the description of people and places. I would have added more of this, and it definitely would have added to the story. For example, she never really describes what Gregor and most of the other characters looked like, and it was difficult to get a picture in my mind of what the characters looked like.

But all in all, this book was phenomenal. I recommend this book almost everybody. Everybody who loves a good read with an exciting plot. Everybody who takes down a book in one sitting and leaves feeling sated. Everybody who enjoys thrilling adventures not weighed down my the inclusion of romance. Everybody who has it in them to enter the Underland will love this book: its plot, tempo, characters, writing, and everything else as much as I did. That is why I would recommend the book “Gregor the Overlander” by Suzanne Collins, because a good adventure with a unique cast of characters never gets old.