Posted by: Lizzie Ross | April 15, 2010

Kafka for kids

Gregor the Overlander, Suzanne Collins (2003), Scholastic, 308 pp.

Once the main character of this book met up with some very large cockroaches, I could no longer get Kafka out of my mind. After all, how many heroes in literature are named Gregor? And how many heroes named Gregor have a cockroach as an alter ego?

Perhaps I’m pushing it here, but I can see this series, Underland Chronicles (there are several more volumes, but I haven’t read them yet), as a starter-drug for middle schoolers to move into The Metamorphosis.

Anyway, Gregor falls down a chute with his 2-year-old sister, and they end up in Underland, just in time to fulfill a centuries old prophecy, rescue their father, and end a war. Battles, intrigue, conflict amongst Gregor’s team. I won’t say much more beyond that.

Except for one thing. Gregor spends much of the first half of the novel carrying around his sister, but when that becomes inconvenient, she gets strapped to the back of a 4-foot-long cockroach. And loves it. Kafka, anyone?

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