Dark Life (Dark Life #1) by Kat Falls
Title: Dark Life
Author: Kat Falls
Genre: Post-apocalypse, Dystopia, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic (US) / Simon & Schuster (UK)
Publication Date: May 2010 (US) / August 2010 (UK)
Hardcover: 304 Pages
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.
A thrilling futuristic adventure set deep undersea, Dark Life follows the settlers of the world’s first subsea settlement as they defend their homesteads against a brazen band of outlaws.
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…
From School Library Journal
Gr 6-10–The wild frontier meets Jacques Cousteau in this futuristic novel (Scholastic, 2010) by Kat Falls. Global warming has done its job and the oceans have risen. The coasts lie beneath hundreds of feet of water and people living topside are crammed into stacked housing developments, fighting for inches of space. Ty and his family have all the space they want. They have chosen to homestead the ocean floor—in the Dark Life. Gemma is a topsider who has come to the deep-sea colony looking for her brother and hoping to escape being placed in an orphanage. Ty and Gemma team up to help each other when outlaws begin attacking the ocean settlements. Ty calls upon his dark gift—the ability to communicate with sonar—to rescue his community and Gemma. Narrator Keith Nobbs distinguishes the characters well, and his quick pacing will appeal to listeners. Action, suspense, romance, and a few surprises make this a good choice for middle school boys.–Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OKα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Free Listening to Dark Life (Dark Life #1) by Kat Falls Audio Book
Review Dark Life (Dark Life #1) by Kat Falls Audio Book
Dark Life is the story of Ty Townsend, a teenager born and raised on the sea floor, four hundred-plus feet beneath the surface. After the world’s temperature rose, the ice caps melted, permanently changing the climate and topography of the planet with twenty percent of the (former) United States’ eastern seaboard submerged under new sea-level. With so much land gone, humans faced two choices – to cram together in strictly limited land residences, or to move to the sea floor. Those pioneers of underwater habitation – Dark Lifers – enjoy all the space they want, but face incredible hardships. The Commonwealth (which has instigated marshal law for decades) controls the flow of supplies to underwater districts such as Ty’s home, Benthic Territory, and can revoke it at will. A band of raiders, led by the fearsome criminal Shade has been terrorizing Benthic Territory, intercepting ‘wealth shipments of supplies and wreaking havoc. The Commonwealth issues an ultimatum to those in Benthic Territory – either they catch the raiders on their own, or else all supplies will permanently dry up, their already high taxes will go through the roof, and land ownership rights revoked.
An enraged Ty – just two years from getting his own land – resolves to do whatever he can to help catch the raiders. But, he has his own hands busy with Topsider Gemma, whom he stumbles upon in deep water. A runaway orphan determined to find her missing older brother, Gemma and Ty’s paths intersect in strange and unforeseen ways – both work together, with the fate of the underwater colony, and more, at stake.
Dark Life is Kat Falls’ first novel, and it is undeniable, action-packed FUN. Fast-paced, wonky and imaginative, I thoroughly enjoyed this science fiction-type underwater romp (even if it really strains the limits of belief). The first thing to say about Dark Life is how adeptly Ms. Falls urges the plot along – I’m talking Rachel Caine-style non-stop action and wonder. And, as I’m a sucker for a briskly plotted sci-fi thriller, this translates to Thea-crack. From a plotting and writing perspective,Dark Live is unabashedly Over-The-Top, and I mean this in the best possible way. Like, the way that Avatar is ridiculously over the top. Or Aliens versus Predator is ridiculous and over the top. Or Lost could be ridiculous and over the top. Dark Lifehas a ridiculous amount of twists and reveals, which leaves me one very happy camper (or is it diver?). The setting is wonderfully detailed and aesthetically awesome, evoking a sort of Avatar-under-the-sea meets The Abyss with bio-luminescent life (I can definitely see how this book will translate to the big screen). and I loved the divide between those in Ty’s underwater world, and those in Gemma’s topside realm. Of course, as the descriptions are filtered through Ty’s narrative and the majority of the story takes place in the ocean’s depths, it’s strange to see how humanity chooses to cling to its crumbling, crowded and polluted relics when such beauty, space, and life is available underwater. Through Ty’s lovingly detailed descriptions, Benthic Territory comes to lush, vibrant life.
And, with narrative in mind, the characters of Dark Life are solidly written as well. As a protanonist, Ty’s voice is honest and self-assured, painting a heroic character – even if he does lean towards the too good to be true category. As his foil, Gemma makes up for Ty’s goodie-goodie tendencies with her brashness, her tendency to stick her foot in her mouth, and her pushiness. Needless to say, the two make a good pair. (My only quibble lay later in the book as Gemma’s tendency to get abducted at the worst possible instant – there are at least three pivotal instances of this in rapid succession) Then there are the supporting characters of Ty’s family (how I LOVE Zoe), a scarred Doctor, and a ruthless gang leader. I won’t say much for fear of spoilers, but they are all wonderfully written.
Of course, there is the minor problem of believability. The idea of deep sea living is as foreign and irresistible as outer space, facing many of the same challenges. Granted, this is not a hard science fiction title and Ms. Falls is not a marine biologist or engineer – but Dark Life does push the boundaries of credulity. Tropical fish, humans and livestock walking around at 400 feet underwater, traipsing to the surface and back at will without nitrogen buildup in the blood (not to say anything about getting up to the surface from 400 feet below on a single breath at the end without massive embolisms)? These technical issues said, Ms. Falls does subscribes to the George Lucas/Gene Roddenberry school of physics – and as with Star Warsor Star Trek (or, since the esteemed Mr. Zemeckis is involved, Back to the Future), the rules of physics sometimes don’t need to apply if the rest of the world is as compelling as Ty’s happens to be. Plus, that’s not to say that there aren’t any technological gadgets in place to aid the suspension of disbelief – I love the idea of “Liquigen” (filling the lungs of divers, allowing them to breathe and not suffer any ill effects of pressurization) and the jellyfish-like homes, just as love the idea of terrafarming the bottom of the ocean using superheated water from black chimneys and bacteria. Oh yeah, there’s also the idea of “Dark Gifts” and how water pressure stimulates other parts of the brain, leading to talents like dolphin sonar and other superhuman abilities. Yeah, these things are impossible. But, so what? For the sake of the story, even though I’m at the outer limits of credulity, I’m willing to push skepticism aside because Dark Life is that much fun.
Wildly enjoyable with a plot that won’t quit and a highly imaginative scope, Dark Life is a winsome first novel from Kat Falls. And I, for one, hope to return to Ty’s world very soon.