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Suzanne Collins

Suzanne CollinsSuzanne Collins writes for children’s television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. She lives in Connecticut with her family. Learn more at Suzanne Collins’ website.


Gregor the Overlander: High quality YA fantasy

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

In the sea of young adult fiction out there, Gregor the Overlander makes for one of the more pleasant anchorages. The book starts off quickly with Gregor and his two-year-old sister "Boots" falling through a gateway into the Underworld, a sprawling underground land populated by giant talking cockroaches, rats, bats, and spiders, along with several thousand pale humans descended from a 17th century "overlander" who led his small group into the Underworld then sealed the entrances. This descendant left a string of prophecies, including one which seems to point directly to Gregor as the one who may or may not save the humans in their ongoing war with the rats (as is often the case with prophecies, this one is somewhat lacking in clarity). Gregor has a more personal issue at stake; it turns out his father, who had disappeared a few years earlier, had also fallen through into the Unde... Read More

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane: Strong followup

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins

The Prophecy of Bane continues the strengths displayed in Suzanne Collins' first book in the series, Gregor the Overlander. The book moves along quickly and smoothly with few if any slow spots; the major characters, if not minutely detailed, have enough personality and reality to hold one's interest and concern; and the setting, which as in the first is probably the weakest element in terms of vividness, is at least interesting enough in general terms so that its lack of detail is not much of a flaw.

As in book one, Gregor enters the Underworld to save a family member. In book one it was his father; here it is his little sister Boots. One sees the freshness and originality early on in the book as the quest quickly changes from what the reader first assumes it will be — the search for Boots — to a more dark jo... Read More

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

Gregor 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.
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Gregor and the Code of Claw: Doesn’t quite match quality of earlier books

Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins

This is the fifth and series-ending (I shy from ever using the word “final” with regard to fantasy nowadays) book in the Gregor series, one of the most original and powerful young adult fantasy series now in recent years. It is not a standalone book, so if you haven’t read the first four, you should start. Assuming you have, however, how does Code stack up?

I have to admit to some disappointment. While much of what has made Gregor such a strong series can be found here: strongly distinct characters, a quick pacing, truly moving scenes, a realistic approach to violence and its consequences seldom seen in most books (young adult or not), Code doesn’t quite match the quality of the earlier books. Read More

The Hunger Games: A cautionary tale

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins has already proven her talent for storytelling with her recently completed Gregor the Underlander series. In that series, she showed she was able to create strong characters, move plot along quickly, deftly control the rise and fall in tension, and create moving scenes. While there were some weak sections in the series (sometimes the pace moved too quickly, settings often could have been more detailed, and a few characters could have been more richly drawn), by the end she had crafted one of the best YA series to hit the shelves the past few years — a thoughtful, often dark, almost always rewarding series.

I'm happy to report that with book one of The Hunger Games, there is no sophomore slump. In fact, Suzanne Collins returns with a starting book tha... Read More

Catching Fire: Highly recommended

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

One of last year’s best, most compelling reads was Suzanne Collins’ dystopic The Hunger Games, in which a group of young boys and girls are sent into a large geographic area for a kill-or-be-killed TV spectacle — a sort of Running Man meets Lord of the Flies meets Survivor meets The Lottery. The book, carried along winningly by the strong main character Katniss, was suspenseful, poignant, and often breathless, ending with a clear resolution but with an obvious nod toward a sequel. That sequel is Catching Fire, and while it’s not as good as The Hunger Games, nor as breathlessly compelling (both tough standards to equal), it’s a strong follow-up.

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Mockingjay: Our mixed opinions

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

OK, HUNGER GAMES fans, you’ve been waiting a year for this book, and the last thing you want is some @#$% reviewer spoiling the plot. So, I will do my best to give my impressions of Mockingjay with as few spoilers as possible.

When a series becomes this popular and sparks this much speculation among readers, the author’s task is extremely difficult. How to surprise a fanbase, when that fanbase has spent many months trying to guess what will happen in the final installment (and almost certainly guessed right on a few counts)? Yet Suzanne Collins succeeds admirably. There are plenty of twists in Mockingjay that I simply never saw coming, and there are other aspects of the plot that I partially guessed but that didn’t play out quite the way I thought they would.

It’s no surprise that this... Read More

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: The genesis of the Hunger Games

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I loved Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games, thought Catching Fire was quite good if not as great as the first one, and was only so-so on Mockingjay. Also, it's an uphill battle to write a good, enjoyable prequel if the reader already knows what's going to happen to the main character in the later books and (spoiler) it's highly unpleasant. So I hesitated for over a year to read Collin’s latest HUNGER GAMES book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2020), but when I saw it on my local... Read More