St. Norbert Times

Gregor the Overlander

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HEIDI SWANSON | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST

I am confident in saying that most people know “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. While this series is what Suzanne Collins is known for, she also wrote a series that I affectionately call the “Gregor” series. Though nothing like “The Hunger Games,” the Gregor series is a fascinating and engaging read. I can remember reading these books as a little kid and falling in love with all of the characters. At one point, I think I had two copies of each book in the series.

A five book series, the first book is “Gregor the Overlander,” the second is “Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane,” the third is “Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods,” the fourth is “Gregor and the Marks of Secret” and the fifth and final book is “Gregor and the Code of Claw.” Although these books are “for kids,” they are still incredibly enjoyable even as a college student. With characters who seem like they could jump off the page and a plot with many layers, the Gregor series will pull you into the world of the Underland. The first book follows Gregor and his 2-year-old sister Boots as they fall through a laundry grate and end up in the Underland, a vibrant world under the streets of New York. Full of giant talking cockroaches, rats, bats, spiders and strange humans with purple eyes and silver hair, an Underlander once prophesied that an Overlander, someone from our world, would come and save the Underland. That’s where Gregor comes in.

What I love most about these books is there are consequences to the choices the characters make. I don’t like novels in which the characters come out relatively unscathed after a harrowing journey. How does that make sense? There are losses and heartbreaks throughout the series. Honestly, this is one of the few books in which I cried at multiple scenes. Don’t let that deter you though; there are many lighthearted moments.

This series is one of those where you can feel the characters coming to life with each conversation and description. Ripred continues to be one of my favorite characters of all time (think Haymitch as a giant rat but better). He’s witty and sarcastic, but you can hear the pain he tries to cover up. He’s good even though everyone expects him to be bad, defying fate like most of the characters in the books. Not everything is set in stone, even though the there are prophecies. And the prophecies are actually good and don’t seem cliche, which is very unusual.

Suzanne Collins has awesome world building in every story that she writes, especially in the Gregor series. It’s easy to imagine the Underland because there is so much description, but not so much that you can’t make it your own world. The books aren’t too hard to read and the story is very enjoyable, so I definitely recommend reading the Gregor series.

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