Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.
Gregor is a young boy forced to into maturity beyond his years as his aging grandmother can’t look after him and his little sister as they need. When his little sister falls through a grate in the laundry room, Gregor immediately follows, trying to get her back. They meet a strange group of humans living underground who seem convinced that Gregor will help them fight against the deadly giant rats threatening war. All Gregor wants to do is find his father and get back home.
From the author of The Hunger Games, Gregor the Overlander is a fun, exciting tale for middle readers. The first in a series, this adventure under the Earth with giant talking cockroaches, rats, bats, and spiders reminded me a bit of City of Ember (which I highly recommend as well). This is a fast-paced, light-hearted adventure with great characters. And I certainly look forward to Gregor’s next story.