Greetings, Overlander

You think you wouldn’t cry over the death of a giant cockroach. But you will. You think you can’t be even more afraid of giant rats. But you can. You can wish for your very own bat to fly around on. Your very own spider silk slippers. You can do a lot of things when you read Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.
Wait. Suzanne Collins? Didn’t she write…Yes. About the kids who…Yes. So, is this book too…No.
There. I answered all your questions. Yes, Collins wrote The Hunger Games, about a post-apocalyptic society that forced children to fight each other to the death for the entertainment of the viewing public. No, Gregor is not as bloody and violent as The Hunger Games. That isn’t to say that there isn’t bloodshed or violence:  think the first few Harry Potter books. This series is definitely for older grade school kids, with dark themes of war and loss.
Gregor is an 11-year-old boy living in New York City. After his father disappeared a couple years ago and his mom started working full-time, Gregor became the main caregiver in his house. He cares for his bed-ridden grandmother, who calls him Simon; his younger sister, Lizzie; and his baby sister, Boots.
While doing laundry, Gregor and Boots fall into a vent that sucks them down and down into a strange land with giant, talking cockroaches, called crawlers, who worship Boots and call her a princess. The crawlers take them to the humans, pale people who have been living in the strange place called Underland for centuries.
Gregor and Boots are pulled into a war between the humans and the rats, called gnawers, when both sides believe that Gregor fulfills the Prophecy of Gray, a prophecy which calls for a warrior from the Overland to go on a quest that will decide the fate of all of Underland.
Gregor has no interest in being a warrior or going on quests; he just wants to go home. But when the quest gets personal, he has no choice but to go forward.
The best part? It’s a series with five titles to enjoy! I listen on audiobook and loved every minute! Even when I cried over cockroaches.

-Elisabeth