by Jessica Velez
Suzanne Collins’ first book is described in the blurb as the type of Alice in Wonderland adventure one could have if the main character was in NYC instead of, well, wherever Alice was. And that is what happens to eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister nicknamed Boots, when they are sucked into the Underland…through a vent in the laundry room. The pair finds themselves in a world with giant talking cockroaches, rats, spiders and bats. There is also a human population that believes that Gregor will fulfill a prophecy that would rid them of the threat of the rats. Gregor also learns that his father that disappeared over two years ago was also sucked into the Underland and is currently being held captive by the rats. Gregor finds himself on a journey with two roaches, two humans of royal blood, a spider, and a rat, and surprisingly Boots is along for the ride as well.
Gregor learns about bravery and hope as he deals with betrayals, battles and death, as well as friendship and sacrifice. He was a likable character, with a clear change from the beginning to end, and Boots was adorable. I had no idea how a two year old could actually be involved in this type of adventure, yet Collins pulls it off. The other characters had depth as well, from the somewhat annoying Princess Luxa that is also a preteen, to loyal bats that bond with their riders.
This was an entertaining and at times touching book. I never thought that I would feel emotion over a roach dying but Collins managed to create a type of sympathy toward many of the oversized creatures. This is the first in a series, and although this is a children’s book, I will be reading the rest in the series. I would recommend this book from middle school up. If you are older and still like reading kid’s book (like me), then this is also worth the read.
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