I got the first book of this series for free after doing my library’s summer reading program; I didn’t want any of the other books on the free book cart, and my sister said, “Oh, that’s by Suzanne Collins. I’ve heard it’s pretty good.” I read the back cover and expected a stereotypical adventure of a chosen-one type character, evil rats and good mice, and an annoying, rebellious warrior princess to boot.
Overall, it didn’t sound to great.
But I was so wrong! From the opening page, I found this book very engaging. The first book did have it’s stereotypical moments, and Luxa did start off as a rebellious warrior princess, but over the course of the series she matured greatly. By the end, I loved her character. Gregor was an awesome main character; shy, humble, conscientious. He had to face tough moral choices and accept responsibilities he didn’t want.
But one of the characters that really shined was Ripred, the rat. He was alternately irrating, funny, tragic, and just pure snark. Ares the bat become one of my favorite characters by book 2; and Gregor’s little sister Boots was adorable. I could ramble on and on about the characters. 😛
What about the plot? Very good. There are lots of misinterpreted prophecies and plot twists. Some characters totally flipped around and I was like, “what?!?”
You can tell that Suzanne Collins was already leaning towards the dystopian genre, especially in the third book, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods. As for iffy content, there’s no swearing/inappropriate romance (this is middle grade, folks). Yay! However, the books were a leetle dark and gory at times, especially considering the target age range. If I were a mom, I wouldn’t want my twelve year-old kids reading this.
These books handled deep stuff: killing, death, disease, right and wrong, and war. They made me think and I appreciated that. If you’re looking for a light, fluffy middle grade, this isn’t a good series for you. It’s not as depressing as the Hunger Games, but it has it’s moments. And that ending…well, Suzanne Collins wrote as happy an ending as she could manage.
So if you’re a Hunger Games fan, or you want a clean, thought-provoking fantasy series to read, you might want to try the Underland Chronicles.