If you didn’t read “The Hunger Games” in middle school, where were you? Were you hiding under a rock? Probably, because that series was making big waves in the early 2010s. But did you ever happen to stumble upon Suzanne Collins’ critically acclaimed series “The Underland Chronicles”? 

I was visiting home for the weekend and doing some light spring cleaning when I came across my copies of the books in the series. I had completely forgotten about them even though the series was one of the best I had ever read. 

I read “The Underland Chronicles” before “The Hunger Games,” so I didn’t catch the fact that they were both by Collins. This makes sense though because the detail and the world-building in this series blew my fifth grade mind just like “The Hunger Games” series blew my seventh grade mind. And while these books are predominately for fourth-eighth graders, I think they would be interesting to anyone. Here’s why.

The first book in the series “Gregor the Overlander” stars Gregor, and 11-year-old living in New York City. His mom leaves him at their apartment with his grandma and little sisters. While he is doing some laundry in the basement with his baby sister Boots, she falls down an old air duct grate. Gregor dives in after and finds the Underland.

The Underland is composed of humans (or “underlanders”) with almost-clear skin and giant rats, bats and bugs. The two land in the Underland on the outskirts of its capital city, Regalia. They meet some giant cockroaches who believe the two are there to fulfill a prophecy. The roaches then bring them to the city.

They meet some locals — Luxa, who is slated to be the queen of Regalia, and her cousin Henry. They also meet the bats that are “bonded” to the humans.

Henry and Boots learn about the conflict between the Regalians and the rat king Gorger. Then Gregor gets attacked by some gigantic rats but the underlanders save him. This fuels the conflict between the underlanders and the rats. 

The Prophecy of Gray, Gregor and Boots learn, is a tale that tells of two overlanders who team up with 10 underlanders to find Gregor’s father, who went missing in Underland long ago. They gather the team and set out on their journey.

I don’t want to spoil too much, because I really do believe this is a series worth reading, even if you’re not in fifth grade. The five books all contain action, emotion, struggle and some really cool characters. It’s honestly a good read for any gender or any age. Besides, it may be nice for your brain to have a break from college-level reading.

Even though I read the series in grade school, I can still picture the Underland in my head today. While Collin’s Underworld may not have made as big of a splash as “may the odds be ever in your favor,” I promise that it is still worth your time.