This irresistible first novel tells the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny — and find his father — in a strange world beneath New York City.
When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever. (Goodreads).
Plenty of twists and surprises (and creepy critters)
I’d heard about this series many times and it had been bobbing away in my to-read list for a while. I finally decided to take the plunge and read the first book, Gregor the Overlander. That was a few months ago and I’ve finally found the time to post a review.
This story is a journey of an unwitting, and mainly unwilling hero, Gregor. He’s a quiet boy who finds himself in the middle of a huge challenge in a dark and troubled world.
Gregor somehow manages to tumble down a mysterious hole (the laundry grate) and finds himself in a strange and mysterious place known as Underland, which happens to be below his home city. And, to make matters a little more tricky, his 2 year-old sister, Boots, is with him. Underland is a place that’s full of giant rats, hefty spiders, sizable cockroaches and humans known as Underlanders. It’s not your ideal place to spend time, but it’s one where Gregor finds a link to the mysterious and unsolved disappearance of his father a couple of years before.
Upon arrival, he is met by Underlings who insist that Gregor is the promised one. The one who is destined to save them from a life of misery should the fragile peace be broken. Gregor isn’t so keen on his newfound importance and is torn throughout the tale. He wants nothing more than to find his father, but he’s also in denial of his new warrior status, as foretold in the Underland prophecy. Ultimately he just wants to go home, so he soon realises that perhaps all three things (dad, home, help) can be achieved and he reluctantly agrees to help his hosts. There’s plenty of twists and surprises for him along how way, which provided plenty of tension and excitement to keep my interest until the end.
If there was one thing that I wasn’t keen on, it was Boots, Gregor’s two year old sibling. I wasn’t sure what value the character added to the story, or even why she was included. I felt that she just vaguely lingered in the background and popped up every so often when there was a lull in the story. It may have been a little more interesting if the author had explored the impact that traveling with such a youngster would have on Gregor in more detail. I’ve read other reviews where Boots was a favorite character, so I guess it’s really just a personal observation, rather than a fault or flaw in the plot. But that aside, I did enjoy the book. I’ll be sure to read the subsequent books in the series, so I can follow Gregor’s journey to the end.
In a nutshell … Gregor the Overlander was an entertaining read, which has hooked me for the rest of the series. It’s a great debut novel from an author who has gone on to become hugely successful.
Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.