Below is a "special guest" book review by Chris in the Circulation Department.
The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins is a five book series marketed for children, but don't let that shape your expectations.Â The intense and continually expanding plot combined with impressive emotional depth and superb characterizations can easily draw in readers of any age.
Eleven-year-old Gregor and his thoroughly likeable family find themselves caught up in the brutal struggles of a secret world miles beneath New York City. A civilized yet militaristic community of humans share the Underland with large and intelligent creatures, including loyal bats, ferocious rats, and surprisingly noble cockroaches. Time and again, Gregor takes part in increasingly deadly missions in hopes of maintaining a fragile peace. But to do so he must go against his own gentle nature by gradually taking on the role of a warrior.
While this series boldly and admirably addresses such profound issues as racism, loss, the lasting costs of war, and even genocide, what most impressed me was Gregor himself.Â Portrayed in a refreshingly realistic manner, Gregor is simply a great kid.Â Thoughtful, considerate, self-sacrificing, and determined, he carries the story squarely on his shoulders.Â Especially in the epic final installment, Gregor the Overlander shows how much an exceptional child may be willing to suffer, and to lose, for what he knows is right.