Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
I just finished listening to Gregor the Overlander. This is a fantasy story about an eleven-year-old boy (Gregor) and his two-year-old sister (Boots) who fall down a shaft in their New York City laundry room into an underground world. In this world, humans live side-by-side with giant bats and cockroaches.
Gregor, whose father disappeared two years ago, learns that his falling into the Underland was prophesied centuries ago. He is the one who will be the "warrior;" the one who will defeat the evil giant rats and bring light to the Underland. Gregor doesn't see himself as a warrior, just as a kid who is trying to get him and his sister home.
Gregor, much like Frodo Baggins of Lord of the Rings fame, is sent on a quest with several inhabitants of the Underland, including two members of the human royal family and two cockroaches. Along the way the group encounters mental and physical challenges that tests the group's strength and resilience. An action-packed adventure reminiscent of Lord of the Rings or The Lightening Thief, young readers will enjoy the story of Gregor, an unusual hero of extraordinary talents.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and look forward to the next installment, I did not care much for the reader on the audiobook version. I highly recommend this book, especially for middle schoolers, but suggest maybe skipping the audio version.