Gregor the Overlander

who let the gods out .jpg

Genre: A fantasy adventure about family and friendships. Perfect for readers who like character-driven books. 

Type of reader:

Age range:  (9 – 11): Reluctant reader – (YA)

Length of book:

Series: Underland Chronicles

Reviewed by: Katy Reeve

Author: Suzanne Collins

This book is a great choice if your child:

  • Is an avid reader of adventure/fantasy/portal stories.

  • Has watched the Hunger Games but couldn’t access the books. Use the kudos of the author to appeal to an older, more reluctant reader.

  • Loves fantasy stories that are set within the context of our world.

  • Gets drawn into a narrative through the rich description of characters and setting, and enjoys the extra detail. Collins subtly leaves symbolic clues throughout the text to add interest for the attentive reader.

  • Enjoys a book that is only 245 pages and a fast-paced read.

  • Wants to be reading more grown-up, YA books. Gregor the Overlander looks like the Hunger Games, the graphics and premise are YA. However, the text is accessible and engaging but not too complicated.

  • This series can develop self-confidence and reading stamina. It is essential for a reluctant reader that books are finished and enjoyed before the interest in them is lost.

As a reader of many children’s books it’s a rare thing to find myself wide-eyed and still reading into the early hours of the morning, but Gregor the Overlander had me hooked. Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger Games trilogy, skillfully drew me into another world where I fell in love with the rich characters.

Gregor and his sister Boots live with their mum; their dad is missing. The brother and sister quickly find themselves in a strange place called the Underland, where giant bats, rats and cockroaches live amongst the pale humans. The Underlanders call Gregor “the warrior” and his 2-year-old sister Boots the “princess” after a prophecy that was written hundreds of years ago. The quest begins as Gregor must find his father and save the Underland from the “gnawers”. The plot moves at a pace, filled with heartbreaking lessons about family devotion, friendship and compassion, survival against the odds, the courage of Gregor – an ordinary self-doubting boy, relationships between people from vastly different backgrounds with a common cause, creatures of all sorts and, most of all, hope.

Gregor the Overlander is an excellent choice for an avid reader who likes to get stuck into an action-packed series (there are 5 in total). The characters are accessed on many levels – with the right questioning an avid reader can dig under the surface and explore how characters develop and express a wide range of sometimes complex emotions.  

However, it is also perfect for an older, more reluctant reader. Gregor the Overlander is nowhere near as dystopian and brutally dark as The Hunger Games, but the premise and journey, physically and emotionally, that Gregor and his family undertake, feel grown-up enough to engage a young teenager. This is what Collins does so well.  You only need to look at Goodreads or Amazon to see how many YA and adults love this series to know this book is highly recommended to all.

You could try using a trailer based on the book to get your reader interested.