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Fourteen-year-old Will Burrows lives in the suburbs of London with his rather strange and dysfunctional family. His mother remains planted in front of the television every waking hour, and his younger sister takes responsibility over such parental chores as cooking, shopping and paying bills. His kind yet spacey father puts in time at the small local museum for a paycheck but lives for archeological digs, dreaming about the big discovery that will make him famous.

As for Will, he is definitely an individual as well but follows his father’s interests in archeology. He has assisted his dad on many research excavations, searching for clues to past civilizations long forgotten and buried by time, and has even hosted his own private digs, like the one in the town dump. One thing the family members do have in common is that they are all rather reclusive and introverted, preferring to spend time by himself or herself, or, in the case of father and son, with each other.

The main reason that Will remains solitary is his classmates. His very pale skin and almost white hair make him the victim of bullies at school. Over the years, he has fought back until most just leave him alone (of course there is always the exception). But lately Will has been spending more time with a fellow named Chester, who also gets bullied because of his eczema skin problems. Chester retaliates, his large size and burly muscles coming in very handy. Eventually, Will trusts Chester enough to invite him along on his dig at the town dump.

Then a huge event erupts, and Will is extra thankful for a friend: Will’s father disappears! The police ask questions but find no leads at all. Some begin to accept that Mr. Burrows is gone, but not Will, who takes it upon himself to look for clues. He discovers his father’s journal describing strange sunglass-wearing men wandering the city and a glowing glass orb powered by something indefinable. Then he and Chester uncover the biggest clue of all: the tunnel hidden behind the bookcase in the cellar.

Will and Chester descend into the tunnel, positive they’ll find Mr. Burrows. But what they actually discover explodes their minds with the unimaginable. Thrown into an adventurous quest, Will and Chester run for their lives as they uncover deeply buried secrets that are not willing to be revealed.

Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams have weaved an amazing tale. TUNNELS offers mystery, adventure, exploration and danger, with every page packed with action. A variety of characters, from admirable to repulsive, band together to lure readers through this maze of surprises and secrets. Gordon and Williams have a special gift for description, their animated words bringing the story to life (“They turned back to the hole and stared in wonder at the dust motes floating like tiny diamonds, forming and re-forming unknown constellations against the night-black opening.”). As an added bonus, Will’s adventure doesn’t end with the last page. Expect a sequel in the spring of 2009!

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on December 10, 2007

by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2009
  • Genres: Adventure
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • ISBN-10: 0545078814
  • ISBN-13: 9780545078818