The battle for the survival of the species escalates in this fifth entry in the Tunnels series. The Rebecca twins are supervising the conversion of humans into walking bombs and preparing the way for the female Styx, depicted on the cover, to carry out the Phase, their method of propagation. This involves implanting eggs in both humans and downsiders, and waiting for the larvae to burst out and consume their hosts. The first stage that develops is the Warrior Class--bigger, stronger, faster, and bent on destroying all species not considered suitable for food. But it is the second stage that is the real threat; the Armagi, transparent or semitransparent, are capable of regenerating and able to adapt to any environment. Like Armageddon itself, the Armagi are unstoppable, their appearance marking the end of the road for humanity. Will, Chester, and Elliott join forces with a group of retired commandos and wind up fighting on two fronts, down below and on the surface. As friends and colleagues die, they are caught in a deadly downward spiral with little hope in sight. Fans will be delighted with the fast pace and escape and battle scenes, and the cliff-hanger ending will have them eager for the next installment. The blood and gore, and the scenes in which the helpless victims are impregnated by the female Styx, are gross enough to please any teens. Those new to the series should start at the beginning and enjoy a roller-coaster ride through the Tunnels universe, literally and figuratively. Ages 11 to 15.
Gr 6–9—It will be difficult for listeners not familiar with the series to follow Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams's fifth book (Chicken House, 2012) because it begins mid-action and little background is given about what has gone on previously until much later in the story. But fans will immediately be swept up in the action which once again has Will, Chester, and Elliott, three resourceful and independent children led by the aging Dawson, fighting about the Styx—half insects, half humans—who hope to dominate the world and who have dominated Will's personal world more than he realizes. There are traitors in their midst; Elliott's loyalty comes into question; Stephanie makes a play for Will; Chester is reunited with his parents only to lose them again in a horrific way; and the Rebecca twins, the main agents of evil, seem to be unconquerable. Narrator Steven Crossley effortlessly switches from one voice to another in quick succession as the action never lets up, and his pacing adds to the story's tension. There is a lot of personal growth in many of the younger characters, especially Will, who realizes that life will not necessarily be happier for him once the battle is over and he may become separated from his friends. Just as the story ends, Elliott makes an important confession. Fans will be eager for the next installment.—Edie Ching, University of Maryland, College Park