Gregor and the Code of Claw, by Suzanne Collins

Gregor and the Code of Claw, the final installment in Suzanne Collins’s Underland Chronicles, is the most unsatisfying book I have read this year. It’s not a bad book—Collins’s characters and mythology have gotten richer and more complex with every sequel, and Code of Claw is no different—but Collins drops so many tantalizing hints, and leaves so many paths unexplored, that it is almost impossible to accept that this is the last we’ll see of Gregor’s adventures.

Code of Claw picks up immediately after the end of Gregor and the Marks of Secret: Gregor has returned to the underground city of Regalia, where the human inhabitants are preparing for war with the rats. Injured, exhausted, and overwhelmed by a prophecy that predicts his death, Gregor stumbles through much of the novel in a daze, only coming fully alive during the book’s intense battle scenes. Even Gregor’s scenes with his family and Luxa, Regalia’s child Queen, are tainted by the war, as the human military leaders use his love for them to manipulate him into service.

The things that I have always liked best about this series actually work against it here. Collins doesn’t have a “Summer with the Dursleys” conceit to give Gregor time to recuperate between books, so if he’s ill or damaged at the end of one book, that carries over into the next. I admired that touch of realism in earlier books, but Gregor is so stressed out at the beginning of this novel that he never really recovers, and it negatively affects the book’s final chapters. [Spoilers ahead!] As he and Luxa discuss their separate futures, they’re both so exhausted that it doesn’t seem to occur to either one of them that they’re only a few years away from adulthood. What’s to stop Gregor from returning to the Underland when he hits eighteen? The children (and Collins) simply seem too tired to think that far ahead.

I had a few additional problems with the book, like Collins's habit of sticking inappropriately peppy sentences in weird spots. (As Gregor faces off against his greatest enemy, after pages of intense, brutal fighting, a sentence like “Boy, the Bane was a royal mess!” rings false.) But my dislike for indiscriminately placed pep doesn’t even register next to my disappointment about the countless plot threads this book leaves dangling. I’m not sure if Ms. Collins is issuing a glove-slap challenge to fanfic writers everywhere, or if she might one day write another book in this series (please!), but while Gregor and the Code of Claw would be a great installment in an ongoing series, it’s a real letdown on the happily-ever-after front.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


The Angry Carrot
The Angry Carrot
16 May, 2007 12:18 AM @ version 0

This series has been one of my favorite discoveries in the past few years, but I was really bummed out by the last installment. It was REALLY violent, and I got a little bored by the code stuff. I think I would have been much, MUUUUUCH happier if it was part of an ongoing series... if she's not going to continue the series, why did she set up so many trails of breadcrumbs indicating that there was more to the story?
\r\nSo... yeah. Great review, seems very fair, everybody pray that Ms. Collins writes more!!!

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