October 20, 2006

Gregor and the Marks of Secret

By Suzanne Collins
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

In this fourth installment, Collins continues the story of Gregor the Overlander (see review). Gregor's mother is still in the Underland, recovering slowly from her bout with the plague in the previous adventure, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods. Gregor is freely coming and going between their New York City apartment and the Underland visiting his mother and working on echolocution lessons with Ripred, the outcast rat. Then Ripred tells Gregor that the Bane, the white rat Gregor had spared from death, has become a violent danger to them all and needs to be killed. Gregor reluctantly agrees to help, but then Ripred vanishes. At the same time, Luxa, the young queen of Regalia, receives a message that the nibblers (mice) who saved her in the jungle are in grave danger. Luxa, Gregor, 3 year old Boots, 6 year old Hazard, Temp the cockroach, cousin Howard, and the bats Ares, Nike, Aurora and Thalia all set off secretly on a long journey to save the nibblers, only to end up finding the Bane instead and hearing his plans to rule the Underland. By the novel's end, war has been declared and Gregor leaves some of his friends behind to race back to Regalia to learn about the Prophecy of Time and to take up the sword that was left for him by Sandwich, the founder. This is a great action-packed fantasy series. Gregor continues to grow as a character as he tries to reconcile his abilities as a rager and warrior with his desires to be nonviolent. There is also a hint of romantic interest between him and Luxa and a cliffhanger of an ending as war is imminent. Who will survive? What will the Prophecy of Time say? Readers won't be able to wait for the next installment, Gregor and the Code of Claw (to be published in 2007).

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