Title: Dark Life
Author: Kat Falls
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “The oceans rose, swallowing the lowlands. Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor: the Dark Life.
Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea. When outlaws attack his homestead, he finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from Topside, Ty ventures into the frontier’s rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life. Secrets that threaten to destroy everything.”
Thoughts: In Dark Life, Kat Falls has created an amazing undersea world that seems a distinct possibility in our current predicament of global warming and natural disasters. Ty is immensely likable as a boy on the brink of adulthood that knows more and is capable of more than his parents realize. While this could result in the strained teen-parent relationship that is prevalent in YA novels, Ty instead loves and respects his parents and understands how his actions will hurt them and their trust in him. He wants to protect them as much as they want to protect him. It is a refreshing change from what I feel is a disturbing trend in teen fiction. Ty proves that parents and teens can have a good relationship.
Even better, Ty and Gemma are not perfect teens. They get into desperate situations because of their failure to grasp the larger implications of their actions. They are hard-headed and believe naively that nothing bad will happen. Their innocence and failure to realize their naivety is also different. Gemma and Ty do not know everything and cannot solve the overarching problem on their own. Rather, they must work with the adults to save their world. In Dark Life, everyone must work together, which is as it should be.
Dark Life is a unique dystopian tale that shies away from the more popular gimmicks and plot devices. Ms. Falls, with a brevity that is both unique and immensely effective, has created a world unlike any other, with unfamiliar sea creatures, landscapes and cultures that are all realistic and plausible. The reader has no problem picturing the stack cities or life under the sea. Even better, Dark Life is not a series but a very satisfying stand-alone story that is great for pre-teens and adults. It is no wonder it garnered lots of buzz, and long waiting lines, at the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers trade show last October!
Thank you to Terribeth B. Smith from Scholastic and GLiBA for my review copy!