Gregor the Overlander: Underland Chronicles, Book 1

Common Sense Media says

One of the best of the post-Potter fantasies.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
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8
9
10
11
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14
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Gregor is a model of care for his toddler sister, and grows in strength of character throughout the book.

Violence

Battles with scary creatures, some rather gory, but the message of the book is anti-violence.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is much to discuss here, especially the family relationships and the Underland parallels to Overland racism. There's also a strong anti-violence message, and Gregor wonders if he couldn't have succeeded without even the enemy rats being harmed.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Gregor and his toddler sister, Boots, fall through a grate in their laundry room and land in the Underland, a world far beneath the earth's surface populated by humans, as well as giant intelligent bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders. Taken in by the humans who live in an underground city, at first they only want to find a way back home. But then Gregor learns that his father, who disappeared years before, is in the Underland too, held prisoner by the rats, who are about to launch a war on the humans.

The humans are allied with the bats, and the spiders and roaches are in the middle. But an ancient prophecy talks about the coming of a warrior from the Overland to unite them to defeat the rats, and the Underlanders think that Gregor is the warrior of the prophecy.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

In this first part of a planned five-part series, first-time children's novelist Collins gets it just right -- strong characters, vivid descriptions, flawless pacing, breathless excitement, laughs and scares, and a vision that makes this fantasy very different from the flood of fantasies filling up bookstores since Harry Potter. This is one that will keep kids turning the pages and begging for the sequel.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationships in the story and the book's anti-violence message. Why are the strong family relationships so important to the story? Was there any way Gregor could have succeeded in his mission without the use of violence?

Book details

Author:Suzanne Collins
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:January 3, 2005
Number of pages:320

This review of Gregor the Overlander: Underland Chronicles, Book 1 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written by8colony8 August 9, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

BEST. FANTASY. EVER!!!

YOU HAVE TO READ THE UNDERLAND CHRONICLES!!!! They are just amazing. They have adventure, great characters, great plot, and that tiny bit of romance that makes it great. From the word 'Gregor' in the first book to the word 'name' in the last, you will be absolutely hooked. The books say 'hell' and 'hellish' a couple times, there is bad attitudes, and at least one or more gory death in each book, but it is just the best fantasy series ever! P.S. Also you should read The Hunger Games trilogy, also by Suzanne Collins. They are also great!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byjlondon April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Alice & Wonderland for Boys

This was a marvelous fantasy read. First time author Suzanne Collins gets this one right and we can look forward to more adventures with Gregor. This adventure is a great example of Alice & Wonderland that boys and girls will both love. The bond and nuturing attitiude that Gregor has for his sister is a pleasant touch. The world that Gregor and his sister tumble into is not so different from our own in the problems that occur between the societies. This would make a great kids book club book with many issues to discuss.
Adult Written bymjdulaney April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

5th grade teacher raves about "Gregor!"

As a teacher, I am always looking for books that will grab the attention of my more reluctant readers. "Gregor" was such a title this year. I purchased and read my copy when the Texas Bluebonnet list chose it as one of its nominees for '05-'06. Two of my students were reading right along with me and our enthusiasm for the book caused many others in my class to get on the library's waiting list. Then we all spent time on-line checking out when book 2 of the chronicles would be available! The characters in this book were vivid and the story line moved quickly. The vocabulary was excellent, the more challenging words being easy to understand using context clues. Many kids were captured by the fantasy aspect, but since magic was not a part of it, those parents who object to the "Potter" series should be OK with the "Gregor" books. With the title character facing trials in his life such as poverty, poor housing, an absent father, and having to care for his younger siblings, many of today's kids will see themselves in Gregor, and others will possibly develop some understanding of classmates who face such difficulties. All around, an excellent book and I plan to start this coming school year with "Gregor the Overlander" as my first read aloud!

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