Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles Series #1)

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles Series #1)

4.4 916
by Suzanne Collins

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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 --…  See more details below


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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Enid J. Portnoy
While taking care of his two-year-old sister in their apartment building Gregor is horrified when she seems to have fallen into a hole behind one of the large machines in the laundry room. This kicks off a series of adventures involving evil rats as guards and soldiers, huge cockroaches, and more in this suspenseful novel. Talking giant insects and frightful looking bats and other "Underland" insects are part of the world Collins has created: a world of ugly, dirty creatures and subservient humans who live under the floor of Gregor's building. It appears that not even his mother or his grandmother can help him to deal with these bizarre creatures from their hiding place. How can Gregor and his baby sister ever get back to their apartment? What Gregor experiences will keep readers breathing heavily as they quickly turn pages to see what exciting adventure remains. This is book one of the "Underland Chronicles" series. The three parts of the novel are followed by an "After Words" section which contains author information and an interview, along with suggestions of how to design a similar Underland and populate it with fantastical characters. Stirring creativity is what Collins does best, along with providing scary surprises. For those teens who have not yet explored Suzanne Collins' writing, this book is an excellent beginning. Reviewer: Enid J. Portnoy
Publishers Weekly
In a cavernous world beneath New York City, humans who long ago emigrated from the "Overland" live side-by-side with super-intelligent bats and loyal giant cockroaches. In a charming tip of the literary hat, debut novelist Collins introduces her young heroes Gregor and his little sister Boots into a wonderland through a trip down a long hole-in this case, an opening in a wall of their apartment building's laundry room. While passionately trying to find a way back home, 11-year-old Gregor learns about the Underlanders, their history and their unusual customs. Before long, Vikus, the noble patriarch of the Underlanders, reveals to Gregor an ancient prophecy-and why he believes that the boy is the foretold "overland warrior," come to liberate them from the giant rats. The relationship between Gregor and two-year-old Boots embodies much of the book's charm, and Gregor himself grows up before readers' eyes. His love for his lost father factors heavily into his personality; in a stunning turn of events, he discovers the reason for the disappearance of his father-who also plays a role in the prophecy. Collins does a grand job of world-building, with a fine economy of words-no unnecessary details bog down either the setting or the invigorating story. In her world, a child singing "Patty-Cake" can change the course of history and a stoic rat can mourn the fact that although he is able to read, he cannot write because he has no thumb. Unlike Gregor who cannot wait to leave, readers will likely find it to be a fantastically engaging place. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Gregor and his two-year-old sister, Boots, take a magical trip to the Underland. This under world is a place full of fanciful characters like flying bats, giant cockroaches called Crawlers, huge spiders and the dreaded and vicious oversized rats. Here in this fantasy world, Gregor comes to terms with his father's disappearance, and because of a mysterious prophesy, realizes he may be the next "Overland Warrior" of this mysterious world. The author bases her book on the relationships between the characters that Gregor meets in the Underland and Gregor's own journey of self-discovery. The author's ending is true to the fantasy she has created in the Underland, with hints regarding Gregor's next adventure there. For the most part, Collin's story is an adventurous read for young children. However, the novel lacks at certain points necessary descriptive details of the characters and settings. For instance, the descriptions of Regalia, the Underland city, and many of the book's characters should be so distinct that we visualize them. Overall, though, I recommend Collins's book to the young reader who loves fantasy and mystical reading adventures. 2003, Scholastic Press, and Ages 9 to 12.
—Tina Gregory
Eleven-year-old Gregor anticipates a long, boring summer babysitting his two-year-old sister, Boots, and keeping an eye on Grandma, who has lost touch with reality, until he heads down to the cellar of his apartment building to do the laundry. He is distracted, thinking about his father, who disappeared almost three years ago, and just as he puts a load of clothes in the dryer, his sister crawls into an air vent. A strange wisp of steam curls around Boots and suddenly she is gone. Terrified, Gregor dives through the air shaft after her only to find himself falling endlessly down into a frightening and dangerous world inhabited by giant bats, cockroaches, and rats. Befriended by a group of humans, he finds that his arrival has been foretold and anticipated-Gregor alone possesses the power to defeat the rats and save the kingdom of Regalia. By championing Regalia's cause, he also fulfills his greatest desire: to find and rescue his father. As with Tad in Rebecca Rupp's The Waterstone (Candlewick, 2003/VOYA February 2003), this classic reluctant hero has his dreary, mundane life suddenly transformed by fantastic adventures. Gregor, an extremely responsible and endearing big brother, sets out to save the world with Boots in a backpack. His youth is tempted by danger, fear, and death, but in the end, he is triumphant, Regalia is saved, and his family is reunited. A refreshing combination of sensitive characters, innovative devices, and an unusual setting make this an appealing purchase for younger fantasy fans. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9).2003, Scholastic, 320p, Wallace
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-In this accessible, almost-cinematic fantasy, Gregor and his two-year-old sister fall into an amazing underground world. Taken in by people who have lived beneath the earth for centuries, the 11-year-old learns about the giant-sized talking creatures that also reside there, including bats, cockroaches, and vicious rats. Gregor just wants to get home, but a prophecy hints that he may be the "overlander" destined to save the humans from the warlike rodents. He is reluctant until he learns that his father, who disappeared from their New York City home a few years before, is a prisoner of the rats. Gregor is not an eager hero, but with common sense, quick thinking, and determination he grows into the role. His sister, who provides some comic relief, also plays a key part because of her ability to befriend creatures, especially the giant cockroaches. Plot threads unwind smoothly, and the pace of the book is just right. Exciting scenes and cliff-hanger chapters are balanced by decisions and interactions that drive the action. Gregor is not the most compelling figure at first, but as the story progresses he becomes more interesting, maturing through the challenges he faces. Supporting characters are generally engaging, particularly the enigmatic warrior rat that claims to support the protagonist's mission. This is an engrossing adventure for fantasy fans and for those new to the genre.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Gregor's luminous, supremely absorbing quest takes place in a strange underground land of giant cockroaches, rideable bats, and violet-eyed humans. When his two-year-old sister Boots tumbles into an air duct in his building's laundry room, Gregor leaps after her and they fall, à la Alice, into another world. Gregor wants desperately to get home-until he hears that his father, who left Gregor heavy-hearted by disappearing two years ago, may be in Underland himself, kept prisoner by enormous, war-hungry rats. A coalition of creatures and royal humans is formed to rescue him, modeled after an ancient prophetic poem that has foretold Gregor's arrival and calls him the Overland Warrior. The abiding ache of Gregor's sadness is matched by his tender care for Boots. Creature depictions are soulful and the plot is riveting; Underland's dark, cavernous atmosphere is palpable. Explanation and subtlety balance perfectly. Wonderful. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Underland Chronicles Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.64(w) x 5.22(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years


Meet the Author

Suzanne Collin's debut novel, Gregor the Overlander, the first book in Underland Chronicles, received wide praise both in the United States and abroad. All three titles in the series are available on audio from Listening Library. Also a writer for children's television, Suzanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

From the Audio Download edition.

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