May the odds be ever in your favor…again

“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds-”

Suzanne Collins ignited the literary world with her three-part series when “The Hunger Games” first hit the bookstores in 2008. Now, with “Catching Fire” out in a theatre near you and “Mockingjay” soon to follow, the trilogy is more popular than ever, and Collins’ overshadowed first series is even harder to notice.

Wait… “Hunger Games” isn’t Collins’ first book?

Nope. The beginning of Collins’ first series, “Gregor the Overlander,” was published in 2003, nearly five years before “Hunger Games” was put to print.

“Underland” chronicles the adventures of 11-year-old Gregor after he takes an unexpected trip through a vent in his laundry room to a strange world that thrives in the dark under New York City. Accompanied by his baby sister, he encounters six-foot-tall cockroaches, bats that play ball games, bloodthirsty rats, and an almost alien race of people that live in a city carved of stone.

True to form, Collins’ series has a rather dark and warlike plot. However, unlike “Hunger Games” (where it started dark and quickly got bloody) “Underland” follows an almost Harry-Potter-like arch of light to darkness over the course of five books.

Personally, I found this series fun and inventive. As a person who generally angles for large chapter books, “Underland” is one of my favorite quick reads. It has the advantage of being easy to read as well as being fast-paced and meaningful. While a little less morbid than Panem, the war-torn Underland has enough action and humor to intrigue most any reader above the age of 10. If you’re a fan of Suzanne Collins, I encourage you to seek out her first published series, “The Underland Chronicles.”