Publish Date: 5/1/10
How I got this book: review copy from S&S kids.
Set in an apocalyptic future where rising oceans have swallowed up entire regions and people live packed like sardines on the dry land left, DARK LIFE is the harrowing tale of underwater pioneers who have carved out a life for themselves in the harsh deep-sea environment, farming the seafloor in exchange for the land deed.
The story follows Ty, who has lived his whole life on his family’s homestead and has dreams of claiming his own stake when he turns eighteen. But when outlaws’ attacks on government supply ships and settlements threaten to destroy the underwater territory, Ty finds himself in a fight to stop the outlaws and save the only home he has ever known.
Joined by a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her prospector brother, Ty ventures into the frontier’s rough underworld and begins to discover some dark secrets to Dark Life.
As Ty gets closer to the truth, he discovers that the outlaws may not be the bloodthirsty criminals the government has portrayed them as. And that the government abandoning the territory might be the best thing for everyone, especially for someone like Ty, someone with a Dark Gift.
Blurb from Goodreads
Wow, just wow…. I’m not usually a fan of young adult books; they are either way too young for me, and I can’t get into the story, or they just have too many adult themes in them for me to enjoy it as young adult. I find that I tend to stay away from the genre, but man oh man has Kat Falls restored my faith!
Dark Life is the post-apocalyptic tale that takes earth as we know it, and shifts it into the depths of the ocean. When life on land becomes too crowded and cramped, a few pioneers look to the ocean floor to start a new settlement where they can spread out, grow crops, and live in peace. Ty was the first child born on the ocean floor, and can’t imagine his life anywhere else. When he meets up with Gemma, a young girl from the topside, searching for her brother; the two set off on an incredible journey.
As the two set off in search of Gemma’s brother, they have a few run-ins with the Seabolite Gang, an outlaw group raiding government ships that starts raiding the homes of the settlers. When the gang starts getting more and more hostile, the topside government threatens to start cutting off supplies to the ocean dwellers until they catch the gang themselves.
As Ty and Gemma discover more and more secrets of life in the Dark, some secrets that Ty wanted to keep (mainly about kids having Dark Gifts) start to slip out. When push comes to shove, Ty must choose whether to keep his secret safe, or do what’s best for his family and the families of those living the Dark Life.
The biggest thing that stuck out to me was how amazing Falls’ description was of what life could really be like under the sea. Her imagination and words took me on a wild ride, and I honestly felt like this world could somehow become reality. The floating jellyfish like homes, the manta boards to travel on, the liquigen to keep life support while in the water, the marine life… it was all so amazing. Her vivid descriptions created this incredible movie in my mind, where everything was so incredibly real, down to the smallest little detail.
While reading, I felt that at times Ty acted a lot older than his actual age, and was impressed that Falls was able to portray him in a way that was not too child-like, and yet not to adult. Both he and Gemma were perfect “young adult” characters in my mind. They were both mischievous and naive enough to be believable as teens, and yet still able to make mature enough decisions to not be childish. It was, for me, a perfect balance.
Both Ty and Gemma were amazing characters. I love that Ty was so resourceful in his own crazy way. I enjoyed the narrative being from his point of view as well, it was so refreshing. Gemma cracked me up. Her one desire: to be reunited with her brother, drove her to do some amazing (both great and stupid) things through the story. I absolutely loved them both, but not as much as Ty’s younger sister, who I thought was such a great character. She was the quintessential younger sister, and for that I absolutely adored her!
The aspect of the Dark Gifts was intriguing as well. I loved that Falls danced around the subject for the first part of the book, leaving me to wonder if it was just a big hoax, or something that had really happened to the children in the dark.
When the secrets were revealed, I loved that the special “gifts” were mostly traits that are commonly seen with marine life. It was a great twist, and I loved the way it was incorporated into the story.
Dark Life is an absolute MUST READ. It was one of those books that once I picked up and got on a comfy spot on my couch, I absolutely could not put it down. I was sucked into the story in so many different ways, and enchanted until the very end! I have high hopes for this series, and can’t wait to see Ty and Gemma’s next adventure.
All in all, I give Dark Life an A-