Deeper: Tunnels Series, Book 2

Common Sense Media says

Grim, gritty, and violent, but undeniably exciting.





What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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.


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.

Not applicable
Not applicable

Fast food, candy brands mentioned, mostly in passing.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Authors:Brian Williams, Roderick Gordon
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:February 1, 2009
Number of pages:643
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:12
Read alone:12

This review of Deeper: Tunnels Series, Book 2 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old May 13, 2010

over reacting common sense

i love this book. common senses read the book don't scan it and say oh look there a head in jar scary let give it a teen rating. the book is awesome. because of you i got the book really late. thanks
Teen, 15 years old Written bycrown_of_rose November 19, 2012

Great for kids 12 and up

I agree with most of the post on this page, Like Elmy said your kids won’t become murderers from reading this book. But in this book kids are placed in many morally compromising situations and there is quite a lot of violence and for some parents this may be a red flag. If you do like depressing and gritty fantasy then I’d say this book is for you. Other than these few things this book was a good read and was well written.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byfunnymonkey2 April 3, 2010

Perfect for Pre-Teens but not for younger kids

It's a great book for those of us who like dark, grim, violent tales with seemingly no hope or death for the main characters or if you are one of those people who like neverending action and suspense.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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