A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn a little bit about exploring/survival, but this is really a fantasy adventure that's intended to entertain rather than educate. Even so, it is reading.
Although the story is quite grim, with lots of suspicion, double-crosses, and painful (physically and emotionally) incidents, the underlying themes are of loyalty, determination, and ultimately trying to do the right thing.
Positive Role Models
Despite making plenty of mistakes, Will generally works his way toward doing the right thing. Dr. Burrows continues to be largely oblivious and selfish, but Will's mother has become a much more likable, respectable character, and it's clear she cares about her son. Elliott is a resourceful, brave young woman, and Chester, as always, is determined and loyal. Drake is somewhat bitterer in this installment of the story, but he's also committed to protecting his young friends and helping them fight the evil Styx.
Violence & Scariness
Near-constant danger, peril, and violence in a fantasy setting. There's one very shocking death of a key character, as well as other brutal killings (some with a particularly gruesome aftermath). Weapons include guns, bombs, crossbow, a pit trap, nerve gas, knives, explosives, and more. The book opens with an inferno-like explosion that two characters narrowly escape; one has a very serious gunshot wound. Characters are held captive, tortured, roughed up, threatened, slapped, and more. Some physical fights, including between adults and teenagers. Description of predators eating/killing their prey.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romantic tension between Will and Elliott; they have feelings but don't act on them. Will admires Elliott's looks.
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Mostly British insults/slang, including "bloody," "prat," "arse," "sod off," etc. Also cut-off uses of "bitch" and "bastard" (full words aren't uttered, but it's clear that's what the characters intended to say).
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Products & Purchases
Passing mentions of brands including Diet Coke, PlayStation, iPod, Aston Martin, BMW, Range Rover, and several kinds of guns.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Not glamorized: A self-pitying character has been hitting the bottle (vodka) pretty hard, sometimes to the point of blacking out. He suffers the consequences (hangovers) and stops drinking too much once he has a clear purpose again. References to beer cans/bottles, and Drake confronts a rude driver who has been drinking. A couple of brief references to characters smoking.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.