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Parents' Guide to

Tunnels: Tunnels Series, Book 1

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Slow-starting, dark, violent, exciting adventure.

Tunnels: Tunnels Series, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+


This review is heavy on spoilers. As a person who read not only this book, but all 6 of them in middle school, I'm warning you all-- DO NOT. Spoiler alert, but you'll want to read it anyways because trust me, reading these books is by far the worst way to experience them. The first book is pretty good— interesting concept and neat world building. That's what snagged me and bled me like a bear trap. Second book is kind of the same, and third book is where it starts to get weird. Then the fourth book hits, and oh dear god. Have you ever wanted to read about the main character's 15-16 year old best friend being trapped by an insane middle aged woman who thinks he's her son and forced to eat human flesh from her victims?? No??? Well have I got news for you, that's probably the least horrible thing that'll happen in all the last three books combined! Book five hits, and the best friend's real parents (who have been brainwashed) kill themselves. Which is pretty bad on its own, but let's just theorycraft a little bit: what would YOU do under these circumstances? Cry? Be depressed? Maybe start a villain arc? Well, more spoilers, what he actually does is make out with the 40 year old serial killer who held him captive and fed him human flesh (it is heavily implied that they had sex). Later, after going progressively more insane, he calls her weird and she shoots him dead. She is, weirdly, portrayed as sympathetically tragic in this scene. But don't worry, that's not even the main plot! The main plot is that (yes, even more spoilers) evil (but sexy, for some reason????) underground aliens are approaching the start of their 500,000 year BREEDING CYCLE, which will cause them to grow probisci and lay eggs in the brainwashed humans' stomachs. All of which is described in bizarre, graphic detail. Okay, I get it. Some kids' stories are dark. Some are sad. That's fine; kids are smarter than people think, and it's healthy to be exposed to and think about and process these topics. These books, however, are nothing short of grotesque, obscene, and wholly unenjoyable for anyone, let alone children. Don't make the mistake I made in middle school. The first three books will trick you, but absolutely nothing is worth the last three.
age 10+

Tunnel Series

This is the best series I have ever read. Not only did I buy each book I also bought the complete collection on CD and listen to it every two years while driving. Fantastic...

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (17 ):

This first book in the Tunnels series boasts an intriguing premise. There's just something about underground caverns and civilizations that's almost automatically appealing, and this is a particularly rich and nasty one, with cultish overtones and hints of an ancient history. And the authors have a knack for multi-sensory description that gives this tale an unusual grittiness as the characters -- and thus readers -- not only see the wonders and terrors of this underground world, but also smell them and feel the filth and desolation in a way that lets you know why they're often referred to as the bowels of the earth.

But TUNNELS also has some rookie mistakes from the first-time authors and suffers from the lax editorial hand that has become all too common in modern children's fantasy. Clocking in at more than 450 pages, the story meanders and drifts for the first third, often getting mired in exposition that will have English teachers everywhere yelling, "Show, don't tell!" It doesn't really pick up until nearly 200 pages in, which may cause it to lose some young readers. Those who do hang in will be treated to an exciting and suspenseful adventure, though one in which readers won't feel that they've really gotten to know any of the characters well. But there's enough good stuff here to give readers high hopes for the sequel.

Book Details

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