Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review: Gregor and the Code of the Claw

Title: Gregor and the Code of the Claw (Book 5 of The Underland Chronicles)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Middle Grade Reader, Fantasy, Adventure


The war has been declared,
Your ally is ensnared.
It is now or it is never.
Break the code or die forever.

Nobody wants Gregor to see the Prophecy of Time. But now he has no choice. War has broken out between the humans and the rats, and the prophecy may be the human's only chance of surviving. But something dark lurks between these words.

Time is running out,
Running out,
Running out.

"If you were to return home after you read the prophecy, I would not hold it against you."

How could she say that to Gregor? How could she not know that Underland has become Gregor's home, that he would do anything to save it. Nothing could make him leave it, not now, not when they need the warrior the most.

And then Gregor reads the line, and time comes to a stop.


(I'll try not to spoil anything, if you promise not to be a good guesser.)

The whole book is nothing but war. If you like constant battles and killing, you may enjoy it.

Personally, I don't care for it. Instead of adventure, we get numbing amounts of violence, a high body count, and practically a guarantee that we will lose several beloved characters. (Pray that your favorite doesn't get the boot.) Also, there's a lot of waiting between the battles. Sometimes the characters are ordered to wait; sometimes they're healing from injuries.

The only real relief is the surprise appearance of a character who's been lingering in the background for a while now, severely underutilized. Finally this character has a role to play in the plot. Yay! This character also develops a relationship with Ripred, the wily rat warrior who fights for the humans, which ends up being very sweet. We also finally get some information on Ripred's past.

One thing that bothered me was the weary conclusion of the theme of war and peace. To expand, in Book 3, Hamnet introduced a philosophy that you didn't have to kill—you could try other things first. This is echoed in a key moment, during a fight in Book 4. In Book 5, Gregor has a moment where he goes too far. So with all of this, I kept hoping that he’d find a way to end it that didn’t involve violence.

But that didn’t happen. He goes off to kill the bad guy. The end.

And while there is peace after the war, it's that kind of exhausted peace that comes when everyone has died—and even then, the moment is very nearly ruined with vengeance and bickering.

As in all of The Underland Chronicles, you can expect page-turning suspense, action a-plenty, lovable characters, intense violence, and death. Probably best suited for older elementary and up.

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