It's only a few months since Gregor and Boots returned from the Underland, leaving their mother behind to heal from the plague. Though Gregor's family receives frequent updates on her condition, they all know Gregor must return to fulfill his role as the warrior who is key to the Underlanders' survival. Accompanied by his now-talkative little sister Boots, still considered the honorary "princess," Gregor joins forces with another princess--12-year-old Luxa--and Ripred the rat to defend the Underlanders and the vulnerable "Nibblers," or mice, from the rat army.
My children and I listened to this audio book in the car. It picks up just after the third book ended. We still need to go back to the beginning of the series to read or listen to books one and two, but the library we have been going to does not have them on audio Cd's. I am going to another nearby library next week and hope to borrow them then. Since we've already started the fifth book in the series I hope to be done with that one by then so we can start at the beginning.
As a mother of four I have to say that the author has made Boots a bit precocious. She knows all her letter and things that begin with the letters and talks an awful lot. Now I know all children are different, and I did have a child who at 2 knew all his letters, but I think the way she is written is out of the normal range for her age. I know it is a book and it shouldn't matter since the rest of it is a fictional fantasy as well, but this element of the book throws it a bit for me and is distracting.
The picnic that turns into a journey through passages even below the Underland that we've seen before brings the story into a more mature storyline. The rats are being led now by the Bane, who was a white rat that Gregor saved in an earlier book who has now grown to at least 8 feet tall and is the leader for the rats. He is all set to bring the mice to extinction (all sorts of parallels could be drawn here but I didn't feel my children were quite ready for that discussion just yet).
Gregor and Luxa seem to be developing feelings for each other which seems to be something new for Gregor. This seems to be about the right time developmentally for him to be doing so and the conflicted feelings and confusion make him a more real character to me.
The ending is a cliff hanger. We finished listening to it on Saturday and my children were very disappointed that we didn't have the next book to start right away. I did check out book five today so we are now started.. Sometimes the slowness of audio books bothers me. I know the narrators want to make the story exciting, and I love how most of the ones we've listened to use different voices for different characters, but it would be so much faster to read it on my own. This is part of the reason why I don't listen to more adult audio books, plus the fact that my children are usually with me in the car so most wouldn't be appropriate.
Gregor and the Marks of Secret (Underland Chronicles Series #4)
Pub. Date: May 2006
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Format: Hardcover , 352pp
Age Range: 9 to 12
Series: Underland Chronicles Series , #4