Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods: Continues in the series’ strong fashion

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsGregor and the Curse of the WarmbloodsGregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins

The third book in the Gregor series picks up shortly after the last one ends and quickly tosses the reader into familiar territory. Once again, Gregor takes up a task underground in order to save a family member. In the first book it was his father, in book two his sister Boots, and now it’s his mother, who in accompanying him down to the underground contracted a seemingly fatal disease that threatens to wipe out the warmbloods.

As foretold by a prophecy (another familiar element from the other books), Gregor joins a group made up of rats, crawlers, humans, and bats who have put aside (somewhat) their hatred for each other to seek the cure to this plague that strikes them all. The quest will take them deep into a dangerous forest, the only place where the plant that supposedly holds the cure grows.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe strengths of book three are the same as the earlier books. The story moves along smoothly at a quick pace with almost no lagging moments. The main characters continue to grow in complexity, maturing with age and experience as well as revealing previously concealed aspects of personality and experience. The new characters obviously don’t have the same depth, but are also fully drawn as Collins manages to avoid the flatness of character that mars so many other young adult fantasy books, even those that are three times the length and so should have time for more complex characters.

The setting remains somewhat too vague for my liking; as in books one and two I wish Collins had sacrificed a little speed of story for a more vivid sense of place. The plotting in this one is not quite as strong as in the others — a bit more straightforward (though with a nice darkly cynical twist at the end) and containing a few scenes that seem a bit sketchy, not quite fully thought out or drawn out. As in previous books, death is not simply an insincere threat hanging over a quest where you know all will survive. Characters die in this book as they have in others and though Collins in my mind glosses over one a bit too easily, others have more impact, some surprisingly so.

The end of the underground section seems a bit abrupt, but as is usual, Collins doesn’t neatly tie things off in a happy bow. Some questions from book two have been answered, others have not. Some characters have survived but not untouched (Gregor’s father, for instance, has still not fully recovered from the events of book one, a welcome bit of realistic shading). And new questions and problems have arisen. There is at least one more book to come obviously, but there is no sense of padding an over-worked story. The characters and problems remain interesting and in some cases have grown more so. Strongly recommended for older young readers. Younger readers won’t have a problem with following plot, but may be truly frightened by an early vivid scene involving rats in the walls and also may be upset by the deaths that take place.

The Underland Chronicles — (2003-2007) Ages 9-12. Publisher: 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.

Suzanne Collins: The Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of ClawSuzanne Collins: The Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of ClawSuzanne Collins: The Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of ClawSuzanne Collins: The Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of ClawSuzanne Collins: The Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of Claw


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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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