Harry Potter meets Narnia? NOT! Sure, it stole the entire "misfit & magic school" premise from Harry Potter, but it has none of Harry Potter's cha...moreHarry Potter meets Narnia? NOT! Sure, it stole the entire "misfit & magic school" premise from Harry Potter, but it has none of Harry Potter's charm, magic (pun intended), heart, or soul. I don't care for the main character, at all. The author also has a very pretentious writing style that makes reading a choppy experience. For goodness' sake, does he really need to cram similes and/or metaphors in every single sentence (at least it feels that way!)? It irked me so much I couldn't finish it. (less)
Not Harry Potter for sure, and definitely not The Underland Chronicles either. It just didn't grab me, at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end....moreNot Harry Potter for sure, and definitely not The Underland Chronicles either. It just didn't grab me, at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. It's a nice story, but somewhat bland(less)
**spoiler alert** The Underland Chronicles, Suzanne Collins’s debut, is not as well known as her smash hit The Hunger Games, but I actually like it be...more**spoiler alert** The Underland Chronicles, Suzanne Collins’s debut, is not as well known as her smash hit The Hunger Games, but I actually like it better than the Games. Both are fast-paced, action-packed, and breath-taking. Both explore similar issues, mainly, war (its cruelty, pointlessness, and heavy toll on societies and individuals), the vicious cycle of hate, the blurred line between good and evil, and mortality. The main character, Gregor, has many things in common with Katniss. Both are young adults, Gregor 12 and Katniss 16. Both are forced to grow up quickly and become the main caretaker of the family (both lost their fathers and have mothers that are too busy or ill to rely on). Both are thrust unexpectedly into the middle of calamities that are beyond their control. Both eventually assert their individual choice/free will (aka, “doing the right thing”), defying their “fate” (or role) of being just unwilling pawns in the game of war. Both are resilient and resourceful. Both love their families and are loyal to their friends.
While the Games is more original in exploiting current politics and consumer culture, the Chronicles is a traditional fantasy similar to works like The Lord of the Rings: the quests, the underdog (Gregor/Frodo) vs. the Monster (Bane/Sauron), the loyal supporters and funny sidekicks, heck, even in the name of Twirltongue vs. Wormtongue (both conniving creatures adept at manipulating others with their words). However, I appreciate the Chronicles quite a bit more because the characters are more developed, more nuanced, and just downright much more interesting (I confess that I don’t like anyone in the Games, not even Peta, and definitely not Katniss, but who can NOT fall in love with Ripred, Ares, or Boots? Even the most evil, Bane, has its brief moments worthy of our sympathy). The Chronicles covers a wider range of themes, such as nature vs. nurture (do we become what we are expected to be, like the Bane — would he have turned out differently if he had grown up differently?), genocide, biological warfare, stereotyping and prejudice, the importance of empathy, and more. All the important messages that kids should pay attention to, and honestly, adults should too, if not more urgently. While the Games is really “dark” and lacking in humor, the Chronicles tackles equally “serious” issues without failing to crack us up here and there.
I listened to the audiobooks and the narrator is excellent. He really captured the essence of the dozens of characters, esp. Ripred and Boots.
It’s a series of 5 books, and there is not a single dud (or slump). Book 1 starts off a bit slow but soon picks up speed, books 2 and 4 maintain the momentum, leaving a huge cliffhanger that leads to the satisfying (tinged with sadness) conclusion in book 5. I have enjoyed the story so much I wish there were a book 6, but have to admit that it ends at the perfect place. There is no need to drag it on — it’s better to leave us wanting more.
I highly highly recommend The Underland Chronicles, whether you are a grown-up or one of its original target audience (ages 9-12). It will make you laugh, cry, and think. It’s one of the most riveting and addictive stories I’ve read in a while.(less)
The first half (or 2/3) of the book is mostly a (much darker) rehash of book 1, and the story ends almost as soon as the pace starts to pick up and th...moreThe first half (or 2/3) of the book is mostly a (much darker) rehash of book 1, and the story ends almost as soon as the pace starts to pick up and the plot becomes interesting again. Definitely the weakest in the trilogy, although I still enjoyed it for what it is. (less)
Wow, what a fantastic tale! It started slow, but quickly gained momentum and then developed at a breathtaking pace. The story was captivating, a dysto...moreWow, what a fantastic tale! It started slow, but quickly gained momentum and then developed at a breathtaking pace. The story was captivating, a dystopia vision with shimmering traces of hope. The characters are interesting and vivid. Although there are the traditional "good people" vs. "villains", there are also some "gray" multidimensional ones that make you think. The writing is lyrical without being flowery; it reminds me of Kate DiCamillo. The ending is predictable, but I like it. It's a "tears and smiles" kind of story so if you haven't read this before, be prepared for an emotional ride. (less)