Series Week IV: Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods is the third book in the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. It was published in 2005 by Scholastic.

Spoilers for The Underland Chronicles.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Summary/Blurb:

“Book Two left off with Gregor reading the Prophecy of Blood: a prophecy that calls for Gregor and Boots to return to the Underland to help ward off a deadly plague. But this time, Gregor’s mother refuses to let him return to the Underland…until the rat Ripred assures the family that Gregor and Boots are just needed for a short meeting, which the crawlers will attend only if their “princess” Boots is present. Gregor’s mom finally relents, on the condition that she go with them. The Underland plague is spreading, and when one of Gregor’s family is stricken, he begins to understand his role in the Prophecy of Blood, and must summon all his power to end the biological warfare that threatens the warmblooded creatures of the Underland.”

~Inside Flap

Passages/Quotes:

Warmblood now a bloodborne death

Will rob your body of its breath,

Mark your skin, and seal your fate.

The Underland becomes a plate.

Turn and turn and turn again.

You see the what but not the when.

Remedy and wrong entwine

And so they form a single vine.

Bring the warrior from above

If yet his heart is swayed by love.

Bring the princess or despair,

No crawlers care without her there.

Turn and turn and turn again.

You see the what but not the when.

Remedy and wrong entwine

And so they form a single vine.

Those whose blood runs red and hot

Must join to seek the healing spot.

In the cradle find the cure

For that which makes the blood impure.

Turn and turn and turn again.

You see the what but not the when.

Remedy and wrong entwine

And so they form a single vine.

Gnawer, human, set aside

The hatreds that reside inside.

If the flames of war are fanned,

All warmbloods lose the Underland.

Turn and turn and turn again.

You see the what but not the when.

Remedy and wrong entwine

And so they form a single vine.

~Collins 24-25

Cover Art 1

Hamnet turned back and surveyed the group. The half smile still played on his lips. There was a long silence.

“Oh, look. It’s Hamnet. He’s not dead,” said Ripred finally. The rat picked up what appeared to be a human skull and started to gnaw on it.

“The skull is a nice touch, Ripred,” said Hamnet.

“I thought so. How’ve you been?” said Ripred.

~Collins 151

“Why is it called bubble gum?” asked Hamnet, taking his piece out of his mouth to examine it.

“Because of this.” Gregor blew a bubble and popped it with a loud crack. Everyone jumped.

“Don’t do that! We’re edgy enough in here as it is!” said Ripred.

“It didn’t win me a lot of points with the Regalians. Now everybody hates me. Rats and humans.”

Hamnet laughed. “Not everybody. Ripred clearly adores you.”

“Oh, yeah, I’m a big favorite of his,” said Gregor. “Probably wondering right now how I’ll taste for dinner.”

“Might be, if you were something besides skin and bones,” called Ripred.

Gregor blew a bubble and gave it a loud pop.

“Cut that out!” snarled Ripred.

~Collins 198-200

Warnings: Violence, death.

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Rating: 5/5

Cover Art 2 (I like these versions a lot more than the others)

What I Liked:

This is where I really started getting into the series. The first two books were good, but this book gave that hook that made me want to keep reading more right away.

Collins always makes sure to highlight the animosity between the humans and the rats (the world versus the rats, really) and Gregor’s views of that anger. It’s quite clear that she is trying to show the reader that this is the most important issue at stake here; this is the thing that must be overcome in order for things to change. Gregor, in a way, is the catalyst for things changing because of what he thinks, feels, and how he challenges the others. Of course, Gregor also falls into the “hating the rats” mentality occasionally, and so it is that much harder to overcome. However, it is clearly Luxa who is the focal point; until she gets over her hatred, no one will. And so far, that’s not happening, if the whole quicksand thing is any indication.

Oh, Ripred and Boots. Ripred, you’re a jerk sometimes, but you act like that because you know how to survive, and you’re trying to get others to survive, especially Gregor. Ripred also is there to show the Regalians (and the readers) a different side of the rats.

Speaking of jerks, Gregor can be really annoying, but he learns from his mistakes and tries to make them better. But still…sometimes you want to shake him because he just doesn’t get it.

Fan art by JillLenaD on deviantart

Oh, man, I totally missed the part the first time through when Boots is spinning around and Gregor is like, “Uh, no, Boots, wrong way.” Nice, Collins. Nice.

Interesting note: Hamnet said that Ripred “clearly adores” Gregor. He could have just been joking, but…I think he’s closer to the truth than Gregor seems to think. I just found this interesting, especially when Ripred says, “Who’s my favorite warrior?” in another scene. I think Ripred likes Gregor more than he lets on.

Other interesting note: Solovet was originally going to go on the quest. Knowing what we find out in this book, did she have some sort of ulterior motive? Probably. She probably wanted to make sure that no one suspected the truth.

Final interesting note: Vikus and Solovet’s children are Hamnet, Susannah, and Judith. That’s a Shakespeare reference if I ever heard one.

What I Didn’t Like:

Like I said above, Gregor is really dense in this book. He does and says some really stupid things. Sometimes I wished he would just stop talking or jumping to conclusions.

Luxa, you’re still annoying, too. You’re getting better, though.

Overall Review:

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods reveals more of Collins’ great worldbuilding and continues to show how much needs to be fixed in the Underland, and that the underlying conflict is not the plague or the impending war, but the hatred between the rats and the humans. The prophecy again proves to be more complex, and tensions continue to rise. Lots of action and suspense will leave you (or me, at least) wanting the next book.

Coming Up Next: Gregor and the Marks of Secret

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