A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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?
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