Deeper: Tunnels Series, Book 2
By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Grim, gritty, and violent, but undeniably exciting.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn a little bit about caving/exploring, but this is really a fantasy adventure that's intended to entertain rather than educate. Even so, it is reading, and fans may be encouraged to read the first book in the series as well as the next installment.
Although the story is quite grim, with lots of betrayals, suspicion, and painful (physically and emotionally) incidents, the underlying themes are of loyalty, determination, and ultimately trying to do the right thing.
Positive Role Models
Will is a complex main character who, while always intending to be a good friend and do the right thing, is often distracted by his insatiable curiosity and his desire to impress his father. As a result, he doesn't always succeed in being there right away for the people who need him, though he usually comes through when it counts. Will's parents aren't presented as particularly positive role models, but they do make progress. Drake, while also complicated, is clearly a hero, and Elliott is a strong, resourceful female character.
Violence & Scariness
Many deaths and many injuries, some described in graphic detail. A boy is shot many times and killed, another is beaten with clubs by adults, a woman knocks a policeman unconscious and is hit in the face with a club by another policeman (who is then mauled by an animal), men are executed by firing squad, a boy is attacked and nearly killed by plants that root in his flesh, large groups of people are slaughtered and some are then hung on stakes and left to rot (with the rotting corpses described in gruesome detail). Also references to cannibalism, jars with preserved body parts, including a head cut in half, deadly viruses are tested on captives with gruesomely described results, and children kill adults.
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Products & Purchases
Fast food, candy brands mentioned, mostly in passing.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a grimly violent book. Even more so than in the first book in the series, the violence is nonstop and sometimes gruesomely graphic, with many deaths (some quite sad) and horrible injuries. Children kill adults and other children, and major child characters are beaten and, in one case, murdered by adults. Although the story is quite grim, with lots of betrayals, suspicion, and painful (physically and emotionally) incidents, the underlying themes are of loyalty, determination, and ultimately trying to do the right thing.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
In this sequel to Tunnels, Will, Chester, and Cal are trying to survive in the Deeps, find Will's father, and escape. Hunted by the Styx, they fall in with the renegade Drake and his protegé, Elliott. Meanwhile, Will's dad makes amazing discoveries in the Deeps, and the boy's biological mother, convinced by the Styx that Will murdered her brother, is helping the Styx hunt him down. But what role does Will's fake sister Rebecca have to play in the story?
Is It Any Good?
The Tunnels series grows even more exciting in this installment, though it does have some notable weaknesses and caveats. Like the first book, DEEPER is badly in need of editing: There's far too much pointless wandering around. The characters continue to be cyphers, and most of them aren't particularly likable. And the authors have considerably ratcheted up both the quantity and gruesomeness of the violence, including having major child characters both kill and be killed, both normally taboo in books for children.
But the excitement and suspense are undeniable, and many young readers will be enthralled. It maintains a high level of suspense throughout: Its tone is unrelentingly bleak and horrifying, and it continues the gritty sensory description that was a strength of the first book. And once again, it ends with a tense cliffhanger. The authors still have much to learn, but it's good fun for those who like their fantasy grim, dark, and violent.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the book's often-graphic violence. Is all of the violence necessary to the story? If not, why is it included? If it is necessary, does it need to be so extreme?
How does the violence in this story compare to what you've read in other fantasy novels? How does the book's overall tone impact the way the violence comes across?
How are the characters different here than they were in the first book? Are they changing and/or learning anything as their journey continues?
- Authors: Roderick Gordon, Brian Williams
- Genre: Fantasy
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
- Publication date: February 1, 2009
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 643
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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