Saturday, July 14, 2007
Tunnels by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams
I thought I was being extremely cutting-edge reading this book. While I was in England I had an e-mail from friends telling about the "new Harry Potter" which was discovered by the same man who found J.K. Rowling. It will be published in February 2008 in the U.S., but is already out in paperback in the U.K. So I bought a copy and tried to read it on the plane. One week later I have finally finished it. I didn't really like it. It is kind of cool that the main character, Will, follows his father into a complex underground world with evil guards (called the Styx), strange technology and torture methods, and a sort of bizarro family, but there was nothing else to make me want to keep reading. I need characters to care about and I didn't find them here. I found Will to be uninteresting—he's an outcast because he is albino, and his only friend is fellow outcast Chester who is big and fat. Chester is no Ron Weasley, that's for sure. Will didn't have much of a relationship with anyone in his family, even his dad, who is really his only hope since his mom and sister are pretty worthless. So this book needed incredible action to keep my attention (I love Alex Rider, after all, and there aren't deep characters there). And the action didn't do it for me. The underground "colony" is deeply evil and there is no humor to cushion the tragedies that occur. Another problem is that the ending is unresolved—just a gateway to a sequel. I will be very interested to see if this makes a big splash in the U.S. I believe the authors received a huge advance for this book. I will also be interested in how they change it for U.S. readers—it's very British in ways that I think will have to be changed for American kids to follow along. I am predicting that this book will be heavily revised or that it will fail big time. For better underground worlds, read City of Ember or Downsiders, or Gregor the Overlander.