Gregor the Overlander Box Set by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Collins, who is now more famous as the creator of the dystopian-future-riffic Hunger Games trilogy, started out on her authorial path with this five book series. Inspired by her imagining what a big-city kid would find if he fell through a manhole like Alice fell through her rabbit hole into Wonderland, Collins has created an underland that has urban grit where Wonderland had bucolic oddity; a world of giant roaches, bats and rats, as well as regular sized humans with violet eyes and a violent nature.
The series is a well-constructed page turner with wonderful lessons on the futility of war, though one has to get through a lot of blood, gore and battle to learn the lessons. Like most series of this nature, the tint gets darker as the plot progresses; Gregor starts out as an innocent 11 year old boy but by the last book, though he is only 12, his world has been tainted by experiences and lessons that would scar any fallen adult. There are many deaths, an Underland holocaust complete with allusions to gas chambers, and creatures who only know how to solve problems by killing other creatures.
Yet, in the end, the reader is told that war is not the answer. Even though it was for Gregor and the Underland.
A dichotomy. Like life.
Pre-reading for my 7 year old; I won't let him touch them until he's at least 10.
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