Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"




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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Calling all boys… (and adventure-loving girls).

Join Gregor as he plumments a la’ Alice in Wonderland-style through a grate in the laundry room of his New York City apartment building. He free-falls unknown distances to the land-under-the-earth. At which point, resemblances to Alice’s world end.

This underworld is a fascinating place where currently an uneasy truce exists amongst humans, bats, spiders, roaches, and the natural enemy of them all: the rats. Down here, all creatures speak, and the rats, bugs and insects also weigh in at extraordinary large proportions. Which is fortunate for humans, who bond with the bats who act as steed, companion, and ally in a dangerous existence.

Gregor discovers that this underworld has a prophecy in which an overland warrior arrives in their world and embarks on a quest with 11 others. Four of the questers will die. The warrior is the only chance the underworld has of surviving the upcoming war against the rats. Gregor also discovers that his father, who had gone missing over 2 yrs ago, is a prisoner of the rats. While unconvinced that he is the warrior of the prophecy, he agrees to the quest and the role in order to rescue his father.

No one can create a quest like Tolkien, but that would be an unfair comparison. Tolkien may be too much for the age group this is written for, so this would be a fine one to whet the appetite.

The theme of war is dealt with well. Warriors are not the epitome of society but are respected as doing what must be done to protect their world. Respect for life and for peace are ideas that are alluded to. The difficulty of knowing and doing the right thing is also an underlying theme: a rich one at that. My 14 yr. old read the series a year ago and says that these issues get explored more deeply in the subsequent books in the series. I can't vouch for the rest of the series, but I found this first one solid reading for tweens.

A character at the beginning of the book is mentioned as being a reader of tarot cards. To his credit, Gregor avoids her and the issue does not come up again.

SAFETY RATING: 3 FLAGS

See Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Fortunetelling: 2116

1 comments:

max January 10, 2010 at 5:42 PM  

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And I have a new book, Lost Island Smugglers, coming out in June.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson

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