Gregor and the Code of Claw is the fifth and last book in the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins.
I love this series (if you couldn’t tell…). Eight years ago, I had stopped rereading Chronicles of Narnia, my first book love. I wasn’t read much fantasy at that time- sticking mainly to mysteries or other ‘real world’ genres. But then I got this entire series as a birthday gift and devoured it in four days.
This changed the types of books I looked for at the library and provided endless hours of entertainment, both imagining myself in the Underland and simply rereading the series. There’s only so long you can keep up that level of interest, though, so I eventually put the books back on the shelf.
This school year was super busy for me, so when summer break hit, all I wanted to do was relax. Hard-core relax. Since relaxing equals reading, hard-core relaxing means reading something that doesn’t feel ‘productive.’ It’s the perfect time to revisit old favorites, and since I hadn’t read Underland Chronicles in years, I eagerly picked up my battered copies.
I expected to enjoy it as much as at first. I did. I expected to fall in love with the world again. I did. I expected to cry for the characters. I did.
How dare that happen to you, Ares…
But there was one thing I was not expecting, a certain realization that I did not see coming. I’d had no idea how much this series influenced me and my writing.
I can see faint traces of this series in my current work in progress: a similar extended family set up, a pair of names that sound alike, bits of one character in another… even the unfairness behind some minor characters’ executions. Probably nothing anyone else would notice without it pointed out, but I see the seeds that the Underland Chronicles planted in my psyche.
On the surface, there’s nothing inherently special about these books. They’re a good middle grade series- one of the better ones, I’d say. But I don’t expect that everyone will love them the way I do.
The Underland Chronicles entered my life at the right place, at the right time, and clicked just right with me. There’s no way to plan that, no prose-polishing that can accomplish that. There’s just the right world and the right person.
I don’t have an overall ‘lesson’ for this book, but it’s a reminder that you never know how your stories can impact someone. Underland Chronicles rekindled my imagination lit by Chronicles of Narnia, and permanently impressed its magic on my mind. Your story could do the same.
What are some of your influences?