© Suzanne Collins, cover art © August Hall.
While the world is waiting for the opening of the film “The Hunger Games” based on a book by this author, I’m working my way gradually through her “Gregor” series. This is a fantasy about an underground world far beneath New York City with a population of humans (from the surface hundreds of years ago) as well as giant rats, giant bats, giant cockroaches, and other large creatures you might find underground, and some you might not. In this third adventure, New York City teenager Gregor and his family have once more been talked into descending the chimney-like entrance to this world that begins in their laundry room to help the people of The Underland with a prophecy they seem to be written into.
I like the series in general, and think Collins’ writing on it is quite good. There are a few problems, though. One is that The Underland is not a very appealing place to be for Gregor, and this time his baby sister Boots and his mother. The human city is not a bad place, but outside of it there are all kinds of dangers and dreary landscapes (for the most part). This is no Oz, where we’d all like to go. Another problem is these prophecies. It seems a contrived plot device to have to drag Gregor and his family back this third time to help decipher them, and to find a cure for a plague that has been ravaging the rats and is now beginning to spread to bats and people. Gregor has friends in The Underland, including a giant bat he rides and is bonded to, but continually putting his life, and the lives of his family, at risk for these people seems a lot to ask.
I did enjoy the story and characters, including some new ones, and Collins has good insight into human nature, and the effects of hardship on it that make many of the characters worth caring about. And some of the new territory explored in this book, a jungle of sorts full of dangerous plants and insects, keeps the pages turning. In all, I think I can recommend the book and the series, and will probably read the fourth and fifth books at some point, but not for a while, as I’m a little tired of The Underland.