Closer: Tunnels Series, Book 4

Book review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
Closer: Tunnels Series, Book 4 Book Poster Image
New twists keep exciting but violent adventure going.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


Romantic tension between Will and Elliott; they have feelings but don't act on them. Will admires Elliott's looks.


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).


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.

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.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byJason Parker July 11, 2013

The best of the series.

Really sad deaths but still an awesome book!!!
Kid, 12 years old July 25, 2011

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

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