“Dark Life” by Kat Falls (Scholastic, 2010)

Dark Life
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Dark Life, the first in a series from debut author Kat Falls, is another example of the growing genre brought about by the success of Hunger Games, about a dystopian future where things are bleak, but everything is certainly not as it seems.  In this particular doomed future the ocean levels have risen, leaving a small amount of high altitude land on each continent that is now filled with very high rise buildings and large populations living in very small spaces.  Then there are those groups who are looked down upon for living beneath the waters in undersea homes.  This is the story of those ocean dwellers.

15-year-old Ty was born underwater and has spent his whole life beneath the waves; it’s the only world he really knows.  Everyone lives in simple homes that look like jellyfish filled with air, attached to the sea floor; the trapped air inside prevents the water from entering.  The people live here normally, growing underwater vegetation for consumption, as well as running farms of different types of fish.  They are dependent on the Commonwealth for certainly supplies, such as machinery and medical supplies; in return they give the Commonwealth various types of fish in large amounts.  Only now a group known as the Seablite Gang is terrorizing them, attacking and taking their supplies so that the Commonwealth stops sending it, telling them they have to get rid of the Seablite Gang before they will send anything else, otherwise they’re on their own.  As the people of the underwater town grapple with how they’re going to do this, Ty meets Gemma, a girl close to his age and a topsider who has escaped from her school in search of her brother who went subsea in search of hope and wealth.  Then there’s the rumors of the “Dark Gifts,” supposed special abilities those who spend their lives underwater develop, but it’s a tightly kept secret, because if people found out that children were developing unique and powerful marine life abilities, it would change everything.

Readers will get sucked into Dark Life quickly, as Kat Falls has a knack for telling a fun and interesting story, keeping things simple, but action packed.  At the same time she has done her research, with the machinery and technology that is used, as well as the detail of sea life of both flora and fauna.  In addition to enjoying a great story, you will find yourself learning a lot about the underwater world and its many strange but very real inhabitants.

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Originally written on March 5, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.