Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane is the second book in The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. It was published in 2004 by Scholastic.
Minor spoilers for The Underland Chronicles.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“In the months since Gregor first encountered the strange Underland beneath New York City, he’s sworn he won’t ever go back. But when another prophecy, this time about an ominous white rat known as the Bane, calls for Gregor’s help, the Underlanders know the only way they can get his attention is through his little sister, Boots. Now Gregor’s quest reunites him with his bat, Ares, the rebellious princess Luxa, and new allies and sends them through the dangerous and deadly Waterway in search of the Bane. Then Gregor must face the possibility of his greatest loss yet, and make life and death choices that will determine the future of the Underland.”
If Under fell, if Over leaped,
If life was death, if death life reaped,
Something rises from the gloom
To make the Underland a tomb.
Hear it scratching down below,
Rat of long-forgotten snow,
Evil cloaked in coat of white
Will the warrior drain your light?
What could turn the warrior weak?
What do burning gnawers seek?
Just a barely speaking pup
Who holds the land of Under up.
Die the baby, die his heart,
Die his most essential part.
Die the peace that rules the hour.
Gnawers have their key to power.
“Fo-Fo, too loud!” [Boots] said, tugging on one of his wings. “Shh, Fo-Fo!”
“Fo-Fo? Fo-Fo? I am he called Photos Glow-Glow and will answer to no other name!” said Photos Glow-Glow.
“She’s just a little kid. She can’t say Photos Glow-Glow,” said Gregor.
“Well, then, I cannot understand her!” said the firefly.
“Allow me to translate,” Twitchtip said, not even bothering to move. “She said if you don’t stop your incessant babble, that big rat sitting in the boat next to you will rip your head off.”
The silence that followed was blissful.
Warnings: Violence, death
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
The plot is much more complex in this book than in the first one. The resolution of this prophecy makes it apparent that what is taken at face value is rarely the true answer. And yet, what is taken at face value is often true, as well. In this case, both the first interpretation of the prophecy and the one that was actually the correct resolution were true, technically.
Oh, Ripred. I like you more with each book. The same goes for Boots, Temp, and Ares. I also really like Howard. Luxa, also, is not as annoying as in the first book, probably because she’s been through a lot. She still sounds like she’s fifteen rather than eleven, though. So does Gregor.
This book marks the beginning (or the start, rather) of the overarching plot of the series. The first book was mostly set-up to introduce the characters and the setting. This book, however, starts the ball rolling with the Bane and more introspective into the human/rat conflict, among other things. The ending, too, is much more open and dangling than the first. There are still questions left to be answered and issues to be resolved. It’s a self-contained plot in an overarching plot line; like the episodes of a TV show, sort of, but more connected, if that makes sense.
What I Didn’t Like:
Convenient items, like I said about the first book. If Gregor takes something from the museum, it will be important. And usually life-saving. And everything will be used in some way. The most extreme example of this is the candy bars Gregor brings along. Also, the root beer from the first book.
Again from the first book, the age of the characters not matching up with their voice and actions. So, technically, the issues that I have are more to do with the series itself, rather than each individual book.
Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane is technically “the beginning” of the Underland Chronicles, since it starts the main plot arc and builds off of the foundation set up in the first book. There are some genuinely funny moments in the book, mostly thanks to Twitchtip and Ripred, and a few heart-pumping moments of tension and/or action (I’ve always found Bug Island particularly chilling).
Coming Up Next: Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods