Freefall, by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

All of the books in Brian Williams and Roderick Gordon's Tunnels series have featured elements from Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, but Freefall—the third entry in the series—is the most Verne-ish of the lot. The characters encounter everything from enormous fungi to giant bug-monsters, and the storyline borrows equally from classic sci-fi and action/suspense.

Freefall picks up immediately after the events of Deeper. Will's brother Cal is dead, his father lost, and his (fake) little sisters are planning to unleash a massive plague that will decimate the Earth's above-ground population. Will and his friends Chester and Elliott have fallen into the massive pit known as the Pore, waking up to find themselves stuck to a strange, spongy fungus growing in the most bizarre environment they've encountered yet—a nearly zero-gravity space full of enormous spiders, worms, and moths.

We're slowly warming up to these characters, and are upgrading Will and Chester from “Incredibly Annoying” to “Almost Bearable”. Will's father is still infuriating, but his mother won our approval when she checked out of the hospital, started looking for her long-lost family, and—having found them—gave her useless spouse a swift wallop upside the head. (Her motivation to make these changes came out of nowhere, but in a story this low on sympathetic adult characters we'll take what we can get.) Drake and Elliott, the renegade duo introduced in book two, are forgettable, but the Rebecca twins are still mustache-twirling little bundles of evil—and far and away our favorite characters.

The best thing about this series is also its biggest flaw: it has plot coming out of its ears. We usually enjoy it when a book features an overabundance of imagination, but Gordon and Williams appear to be having too much fun coming up with crazy new underground dangers to worry about things like pacing or character development. Unfortunately, decent pacing and character development are precisely what is needed to take this admittedly intriguing collection of subterranean settings and crazy-huge bugs and turn them into an equally impressive story.

[Review copy provided by the publisher. To read our thoughts on the first two books in this series, click here.]
Posted by: Julianka


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