Underground is especially dynamic and engaging when Hunt is telling other people's stories or describing his research ... In the liveliest chapter, Hunt shares a handful of stories about what it means to be lost ... His clear excitement about this information is contagious ... Hunt's approach is an open one and he doesn't try to fit all of the disparate narratives into the same box. This survey-quality is one of the book's biggest strengths ... When he visits the oldest mine in the world, on Aborignal land on the western coast of Australia, he makes an effort to explain to his readers why the Wajarri family he's meeting with are right to be skeptical of him — and he writes about the experience of earning their trust and visiting the mine with gratitude ... The issues with Underground come when Hunt leans too heavily on his own experiences ... Underground is a thoughtful, inquisitive book. Hunt approaches the subject with an unusual dedication and open-mindedness that is difficult to resist once Underground get its sea legs.
The connections Hunt makes... sometimes feel strained. Similarly, some of his sweeping conclusions... seem overblown. That said, if not taken too seriously, Hunt’s musings on our relationship to the underground world, drawing on literary, academic and mythological sources, are both provocative and satisfying. The real pleasure of Underground, however, is not to be found in its philosophical reflections. Rather it is in simply following Hunt on his quest, meeting those he encounters along the way and learning about those who came before ... At the end of your excursion through Underground, you are unlikely to partake in Hunt’s longtime obsession. But you may never look at a hole in the ground in quite the same way again.
Much of what [Hunt] describes is genuinely exciting ... Another strength is Hunt’s personableness, and his sensitivity to different ways of relating to the places he is so fascinated by. He seems able to talk himself into anywhere ... Underground is also beautifully written. Hunt is attuned to the smells and textures of subterranean places ... Hunt’s instincts are journalistic rather than scholarly, however, and if I have one frustration with this book it is that it contains no notes or bibliography.