A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like the previous two books in the Tunnels series, Freefall is a grim and violent -- but exciting -- story. Although there are fewer upsetting/unexpected deaths in this installment than in the previous one, there's still plenty of fighting, peril, and danger, and people do die. Characters are attacked by subterranean creatures, shot at, tortured, threatened, chased, and more. Many characters, including teens, wield weapons, and explosives are used in several instances. Still, despite the frequent betrayals, suspicion, and painful moments, the underlying themes are of loyalty, determination, and ultimately trying to do the right thing.
What's the story?
Picking up right where the tense final scenes of Deeper left off, FREEFALL follows Will Burrows and his friends Chester and Elliott as they venture even deeper below the Earth's surface. The boys find unexpected help for Elliott, who was injured in the group's fall down the Pore, and learn that the evil Rebecca twins are also loose in the depths -- and still focused on unleashing the Dominion virus on the unsuspecting Topsoilers. Will's adoptive father, Dr. Burrows, is caught up in events as well, and his determination to explore the book's bizarre, perilous subterranean world ultimately influences all of the other characters' fate.
Is it any good?
Like its predecessors, Freefall is a grim, violent story. Hope is often lost, characters are quick to betray each other (either purposely or through clueless selfishness), and no one is 100 percent likable. That said, it's also an engrossing, exciting adventure story, and readers who've made it this far will definitely want to find out what happens to Will, Chester, Elliott, the Rebeccas, and even Dr. Burrows.
Also like its predecessors, Freefall suffers somewhat from lax editing; the story could be tighter, and some of the plot turns are a bit hard to believe -- even for a fantasy novel. But for kids who think that more is more when it comes to books, the 600+ pages won't be a turn-off, and the unexpected twists the book takes near the end will certainly build anticipation for the next installment.
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 book's 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?
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