Gregor and the Rats of Underland

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Suzanne Collins
The Chicken House
Jan 2006
Eleven-year-old Gregor has had to grow up fast since the inexplicable disappearance of his father. He develops a strong and protective relationship with his baby sister Boots, so when she crawls into the laundry chute of their apartment building, he doesn�t think twice about following her. They fall into the Underland, a world hidden below New York City. It is populated by descendents of the Pilgrim Fathers, co-existing with intelligent (and gigantic) bats, cockroaches, spiders and rats (with wildly varying degrees of cordiality). A series of remarkable and dangerous encounters with the Underlanders forces Gregor to reluctantly accept his role in the fulfilment of �The Prophecy of Grey�, which tells of a quest that will help determine the future of the Underland. Gregor witnesses acts of supreme self-sacrifice and utter betrayal, while some surprising alliances are formed.

Despite being the first book in a five-part series, Gregor and the Rats of Underland is sufficiently well written and structured to make a satisfying stand-alone read. Suzanne Collins uses classic elements of the �quest� narrative (e.g. the prophecy, the drawing of lines of allegiance, temptation and betrayal) with enough originality and complexity to satisfy most readers. The relationship between Gregor and Boots is sweetly portrayed but manages to avoid being overly sentimental. I particularly enjoyed the archaic speech patterns of the Underlanders and was quite charmed by the noble and self-effacing characters of the cockroaches Tick and Temp!

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This page contains a single entry by Mai Lin Li published on January 5, 2006 1:17 PM.

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