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.
Gregor follows his sister through a gate in their apartment building into the Underland beneath the city. At first, he wants no part of the escalating conflict among the creepy creatures there, but a strange prophecy draws him in.
- Gregor: The protagonist of the story. He falls into the Underland with his sister, Boots, and is perceived to be the "Warrior" of the Underland.
- Luxa: An Underlander, and the soon-to-be queen of Regalia.
- Henry: Luxa's cousin. An Underlander of royal lineage.
- Ripred: A trustworthy gnawer with deadly fighting skills and sharp intelligence, who fights alongside the humans.
- Ares: A flier, who eventually bonds with Gregor.
- Vikus: Luxa's grandfather and Solovet's husband. Helps Gregor understand the history of the Underland.
- Aurora: A flier, Luxa's bond. Has a golden color coat.
- Boots (Margaret): Named after her grandma, Boots is Gregor's cheerful, two-year-old sister who is fearless and very little.
- Temp: The crawler that calls Boots "princess" and Boot's friend
- Dad: Gregor is trying to save him from the gnawers.
- Nerissa: Luxa's cousin who foresees what either is going to happen or what already did. Ripred describes her flip-flopping through time like a fish in the shallows.
- Solovet: Luxa's grandmother and Vikus's wife; head of the Regalian army.
- Dulcet: a servant in Regalia. She watches the young in the palace.
- Perdita: an Underland soldier
- Grace: Gregor, Lizzie and Boots' mother
- Grandma: Gregor, Lizzie and Boots' grandmother after whom Margaret(Boots) was named.
- Mrs. Cormaci: A family friend to Gregor's family
- King Gorger: The king of the gnawers, who falls to his death.
- Queen Wevox: a giant spinner.
- Gox and Treflex: two spinners who help on the prophecy of Grey.
- Lizzie: Gregor and Boots' sister, who plays a very important role as the codebreaker in Gregor and the Code of Claw, the 5th book in the Underland chronicles.
- Mareth: One of Regalia's soldiers.
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.