Gregor the Overlander
The cover of the first edition.
|Series||The Underland Chronicles|
|Genre||Science Fiction, Epic|
|September 1, 2003|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Followed by||Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane|
Gregor the Overlander is an epic fantasy/high fantasy novel, and the first book of the critically acclaimed The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. It was published in 2003, and met with critical acclaim, including Kirkus Reviews Editors' Choice and New York Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing selection. It was featured by National Public Radio in the USA in 2005. It was Nominated for a Nutmeg Children's Book Award in 2006 in the intermediate category and came in third place. As of April 2012, users on Amazon.com had given the book a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.
Living with his single mother and two sisters, Gregor is left home alone in the family's New York City apartment to watch his baby sister and grandmother. When Gregor's sister falls through a secluded grate in their apartment's basement, he dives in after her, only to fall miles below the earth into the Underland; a world inhabited by humans with near translucent skin, giant, sentient bats, mice, rats, fireflies and bats, and where an escalating conflict between the human city of Regalia and the rats is brewing. At first, Gregor wants no part of the of the conflict, but when a prophecy reveals more about him than he'd like to believe, Gregor and the Regalians trek across the Underland, hoping to save it from impending doom.
- Gregor: An ordinary eleven year old boy from New York City, who finds he has a key role in the "Prophecy of Gray".
- Boots (Margaret): Named after her grandmother, Boots is Gregor's two year old sister. She accidentally discovers the entrance to the Underland.
- Luxa: The future queen of the Underland.
- Henry: Luxa's cousin, who is next in line to the throne after Luxa. He is less tolerant of the crawlers, and uses his royal claim to his advantage.
- Ripred: A trustworthy gnawer(rat) with deadly fighting skills and sharp intelligence; one of the few rats willing to aid the quest.
- Vikus: Luxa's grandfather and Solovet's husband. He is an important figure in Regalia, and assists Gregor in his quest.
- Temp: One of the two crawlers to join the quest. He becomes friends with Gregor and Boots soon after their arrival in the Underland.
- Tick: A friend of Temp who aids the humans on their quest to save Gregor's father from the rats.
- Ares: A flier formerly bonded to Henry, but later bonds with Gregor. Ares has black fur.
- Aurora: A flier(bat), and is bonded to Luxa. She had a golden coat.
- Nerissa: Henry's somewhat delicate sister, who had the ability to see glimpses of the future.
- Solovet: Luxa's grandmother and Vikus's wife; head of the Regalian army.
- Dulcet: a servant in Regalia, who acts as a nanny to the young children of the palace.
- Perdita: an Underland soldier.
- Grace: Gregor and Boot's mother.
- Grandma: Gregor, Lizzie and Boots' grandmother after whom Margaret(Boots) was named.
- Mrs. Cormaci: A friend to Gregor's family, who lives in the same apartment building.
- King Gorger: The king of the gnawers.
- Queen Wevox: queen of the spiders.
- Gox and Treflex: two spinners who help on the prophecy of Grey.
- Lizzie: Gregor and Boots' sister.
- Mareth: One of Regalia's soldiers, who joins the quest.
The Prophecy of Gray
"Beware, Underlanders, time hangs by a thread
The hunters are hunted, white water runs red.
The gnawers will strike to extinguish the rest.
The hope of the hopeless resides in a quest.
An Overlander Warrior, a son of the sun,
May bring us back light, he may bring us back none.
But gather your neighbors and follow his call
or rats will most surely devour us all.
Two over, two under, of royal descent,
Two fliers, two crawlers, two spinners assent.
One gnawer beside and one lost up ahead.
And eight will be left when we count up the dead.
The last who will die must decide where he stands.
The fate of the eight is contained in his hands.
So bid him take care, bid him look where he leaps,
As life may be death, and death life again reaps."
- Bartholomew of Sandwich, who led a group of humans down from the Overland into the Underland, saw into the future and carved prophecies – which called Gregor the "Warrior" – into stone walls in a room filled with Prophecies
- Luxa's parents, who are described as being killed by gnawers, which is why Luxa holds a grudge against all gnawers, good and bad.
- Ripred's mate and pups
- Henry and Nerissa's parents
The creatures in the series resemble their real-life counterparts in almost every way, aside from being very large (most of them being bigger than the humans) and able to speak in English.
- Crawlers (Cockroaches): They are said to be cowardly and are not treated well by the other species. They call Boots "Princess".
- Spinners (Spiders): They provide several types of silk.
- Fliers (Bats): Fliers are on very good terms with humans. They go on quests together, protect each other, and sleep in the same rooms. These creatures "bond" with their human counterparts in a very special ceremony.
- Gnawers (Rats): They are the penurious of the story. Most of the Gnawers are rude and unmannerly.
- Shiners (Fireflies): All Shiners eat too much, are lazy and unreliable. A Shiner who has left more than enough food for others is unheard of. Most Shiners are competitive with one another. Introduced in book 2.
- Nibblers (Mice): Are allied to the humans. Introduced in book 3.
- Stingers (Scorpions): Are allied by the humans by book 4.
- Diggers (Moles): Introduced in book 5. They are the true founders of the Underland. Gregor discovers that when Bartholomew of Sandwich decided to settle, he tried to kill all the Diggers in order to have the land he wanted. This is the biggest reason humans are called "Killers", as this was the Underland's first impression of them.
- Twisters (Snakes): Introduced in book 4.
- Hissers (Lizards): Introduced in book 3.
- Cutters (Ants): Enemies of all warmbloods (as opposed to coldbloods). Introduced in book 3.
- Slimers: (Snails): Are mentioned by Howard in book 4.
- Lobsters: Was mentioned in book 3 that Ripred attempted to take the Fount with an army of them.
Gregor the Overlander has received Critical Acclaim. Ami Kim from the website World Strongest Librarian said, " If you ever wondered how Alice in Wonderland would have fared in a gritty urban environment, take a peek at Gregor the Overlander." School Library Journal called it, "an engrossing adventure for fantasy fans and for those new to the genre." Common Sense Media gave it a 5/5 and called credited the books "strong characters, vivid descriptions, flawless pacing, breathless excitement, laughs and scares, and a vision that makes this fantasy very different." The book has been praised for covering political themes, such as war, genocide, and chemical warfare, while still maintaining an adventurous feeling.
Readers have also praised the novel; Jane LeGak, an Amazon Reviewer stated that, "Rats and other wonderfully creepy creatures fill the story's dark underworld , but what makes this book so wonderful is how human it is." A. Reid of Amazon.com praised the believable characters, saying that, "Gregor is one of the most warmly believable characters I've encountered in a children's novel in a long time."
It was nominated for the Kansas William Allen White Children's Book Award and the Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Choice Award, and several other awards. It won the Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award and was the first runner-up for the Texas Bluebonnet Award.
- "Scholastic.com – International Rights: Authors and Illustrators". Scholastic. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
- "Excerpt: 'Gregor the Overlander'". NPR. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
- "Nutmeg Children's Book Award 11-03". Nutmeg Book award.[dead link]
- "Amazon.com – Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles) (Hardcover)". Retrieved 2008-07-23.