A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Closer continues the Tunnels' series mix of exciting adventure and frequent peril and violence. At this point, fans will be used to the near-constant danger and the teen characters' propensity for bombs and guns, but a couple of incidents particularly stand out: the shocking death of a key character and the gruesome disposal of other murder victims. Characters are kidnapped, tortured, hit, threatened, and more; there are also several big explosions. One central adult character has been drinking to the point of passing out, but he cleans up his act when he rediscovers a sense of purpose. And despite all of the terrible things that happen to the protagonists, overall their story is still one of loyalty, bravery, and doing the right thing.
What's the story?
In CLOSER, Will, Elliott, and Dr. Burrows continue to explore the mysterious jungle world at the center of the Earth, never dreaming that a danger they know all too well will soon threaten their newly peaceful existence. Meanwhile, not knowing the trio's fate, Chester heads Topsoil with Martha but is eager to leave the increasingly unbalanced woman behind if and when he can. He eventually joins up with an old ally -- who has a very unexpected new partner. As plot twists take the characters in new directions, their underlying goal remains the same: Stop the evil Styx from destroying humanity with the deadly Dominion virus.
Is it any good?
Fans who've enjoyed the Tunnels series so far will find plenty more to like here. This is a solidly entertaining, well-paced series that continues to take its story in interesting (albeit implausible -- but, hey, it's fantasy) directions. It doesn't have the magic of Harry Potter or the humor and crackle of Percy Jackson, but it's creative and engrossing.
Few of the characters are 100 percent reliable or likable, but they do continue to develop and change throughout this book and the series -- something fans will appreciate. Will is now more thoughtful than he was at the start of the series, for example, and the once-pitiable Mrs. Burrows is becoming a veritable heroine. There are some shocking, grim moments here, but fans of the books will certainly be expecting them at this point and will be eager to see where the series goes next.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the characters are developing as the series continues. How is Will changing? What is he learning? Do you consider him a role model?
Is all of the violence necessary to the story? How does it compare to what you've read in other fantasy novels? Does the book's overall tone impact the way the violence comes across?
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