Monday, September 5, 2011

Gregor and the Code of Claw - Suzanne Collins

Summary:  Everyone has been trying to keep Gregor from seeing The Prophecy of Time.  That is because the final prophecy calls for the warrior's death.  The warrior being Gregor, of course.

With an army of rats quickly approaching and time running out, Gregor must gather up his courage to defend Regalia and get his family back home safely.  There is a code that must be cracked, a new princess to contend with, Gregor's burgeoning dark side, and a war designed to end all wars.

The fates of the Underland and the great warrior, Gregor the Overlander, masterfully unfold this thrilling and suspenseful final installment of Suzanne Collins's Underland Chronicles.  (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review:  I don't dare go into detail about this book because not spoiling the series is more important to me than writing an enticing review. I will say I liked the ending and wasn't anticipating some of the twists Collins threw in -- she's really good at that!

After reading the Overlander series and The Hunger Games series, it's obvious that Collins has a message she wants to promote and I feel like I've been hit over the head with  it (even though I agree).  These two quotes summarize the final installment and Collin's overall anti-war message quicker than I could.
"It's like this. You spend your whole childhood hearing about being nice other people and how hurting someone's a crime, and then they ship you off to some war and tell you to kill. What's that going to do to your head, huh?"
"You're really going to do it, aren't you? You're really going to go back to war?" Gregor said. He could feel something boiling up inside of him. "So, we'll just forget about what happened. The jungle, the Firelands, the Bane," His voice was rising and he could feel the rager side of him taking over. "Forget about everybody who's dead! Tick and Twitchtip and Hamnet and Thalia and Ares! And you parents, Luxa! And your pups, Ripred! Let's just forget about everybody who gave their lives so that you could have this moment where you could--could make things right again! So you could stop the killing! We were fighting for the same thing, remember?"
While our youth are innundated with violent video games, movies, and cartoons, I've been debating the consquences of adding another violent series to the mix.  There is a distinction between the video games, movies, cartoons and these books.  This book emphasizes the pain that is brought through violence, whereas many other forms of media do not.  Gregor's emotional trauma is evident throughout all the books and his reluctance to participate is refreshing.  Collins stresses that Gregor will never be the same, and that he feels like the walking wounded, not ever completely able to assimilate into society again. 

My only concern is that young children may not fully digest this information and get the desired message.  If the message is received and completely understood, I believe these books have merit for children.  If it is not, then the books are just another violent aspect to our society.  But, how else do you teach children the atrocities of war if not through an illustration, and such an easily understood one at that?  I haven't made up my mind just yet.

My recommendation for parents is to read the books for yourselves and then make a decision based upon your knowledge of your child.  I would suggest you read these books with your child if you do decide to allow them to read them and then have discussions.  Stop and check for understanding and make sure the right message is getting through.

My Rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: A lot of violence and death despite being a childrens book.

Sum it up: A satisfying end to a much anticipated final book.

1 comment:

CarrieM said...

Great review Kari. I feel like this is very much an OLDER children's book, due both to the violence, and to the message, which younger kids might not take in. If the reader misses the point, they would be pretty awful books! However, they are excellent, and I really enjoyed them and agree with her message.


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