Book Review: “Gregor and the Code of Claw” by Suzanne Collins

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Gregor and the Code of Claw
by Suzanne Collins

The fifth and last book in The Underland Chronicles brings twelve-year-old Gregor to the end of his adventures in the strange world deep below New York City. This time he must truly come into his destiny as the great warrior with “rager” powers, whose deeds will decide the fate of a world where humans aren’t the only people.

Faced by a war with the rats led by the fanatical Bane, the giant, talking mice, bats, cockroaches, spiders, and others look to Gregor to save them – together with his delicate, anxiety-prone sister, who may be the key to breaking the rats’ code. But who will save Gregor from a prophecy that decrees his death? Who will save his family from being held hostage to ensure his loyalty?

This book puts Gregor through a wringer. Besides his own, terrible powers, Gregor must deal with the fragile health of his mother, concern for his sisters, and his growing love for Regalia’s young queen. Meanwhile, military command has been restored to the icily pragmatic Solovet, who engages Gregor in a brutal battle of wills. Yes, this is the same Solovet who was condemned to death for war crimes; her sentence has been suspended now that the city needs her strategic, leadership skills. As Gregor chafes against Solovet’s authority, he finds himself in nearly as much danger from his allies as from the enemy – who, by the way, have dreadful plans in store for the Regalians and their allies.

This is an intensely violent book with an “anti-war” message. It is the concluding chapter in a saga that, like some of the best stories, leaves an aftertaste of regret and uncertainty instead of tying up all the loose ends in a blazing triumph. The ending may even make your heart ache, if the rapid unraveling of many tangled threads doesn’t leave your head spinning. Filled with the pain of injustice, young love, wartime wounds and losses, and the sense that the world one fights for can never again be home, it combines a strong emotional impact with a lesson about the cost of violence and warfare. See if you don’t find the conclusion as engrossing as the first book promised; see if you don’t come to the end wishing for more.

For more information, see Ms. Collins’s website here.