Authors: Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
Although this book is intended for a slightly younger audience (grades 6-8) than the books we normally review, I felt the original concept, advanced themes, and general tone of the book make it a great selection for the YA crowd. (Remember the first couple Potter books were way below the YA level!)
Tunnels relates the adventure of Will Burrows, a British teen whose favorite hobby is digging large-scale tunnels with his archaeologist father. However, when Mr. Burrows mysteriously disappears, Will begins a massive search in which all the clues point down. Excavating under his house, Will and his best-friend Chester discover a secret underground colony living below the streets of London. The colonists are apparently a deeply-religious group, which migrated underground during the 17th century and has remained subterranean in a tightly-controlled cult with evil intentions towards "Topsoilers".
Once entering the Colony, Will and Chester are instantly captured. Chester is imprisoned; Will, however, discovers that he is actually a member of the Colony, who has been placed in an adoptive Topsoiler family. Will is now expected to join his "real" family and adapt to life in the Colony. However, Will is determined to free his friend Chester; find his father; and return to life above. The question is, can he escape the Colony in time to save his friend and father???
The Good: Tunnels is one of the most original books I've read in a long time! I loved the concept of a secret underground society existing below one of the largest cities in the world. I, also, enjoyed the historical aspect (in most ways, the colonists were living as though it was still 1700!)
The Bad: Although I as a college-educated adult enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, I doubt most teens (especially young-teens) would enjoy and/or understand all of it. I also have problem with books that don't have a clear conclusion. I have no problem with sequels, but at least have the decency to give some form of finale to your first work!