Dark Life


Author: Kat Falls

Publication: 2010, Scholastic

Pages: 297

Overall Rating:  bth_45_zps06f87659[1]                      

Rating for Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary:  Ty and his family live in Benthic Territory, a new settlement deep under the sea.  Much of the Eastern and Western United States has collapsed into the ocean.  Space is at a premium and agricultural land is almost non-existent.  Benthic Territory was created as an experiment to try and solve this problem.  The settlers live under water, growing fish, kelp and sea vegetables for the topsiders of the Commonwealth.

Ty loves his life under the sea and is looking forward to the day when he can stake his own claim to 100 acres of “land”.  But everything turns upside down when the Commonwealth decides to cut off all aid to Benthic territory unless the settlers track down and capture the Seablite Gang, which has been preying on government supply ships.  At the same time, Gemma, a headstrong topside girl, floats into Ty’s life, bringing his first crush and a world of trouble.  All too soon, Ty finds himself going head-to-head with the Seablite Gang and their notorious leader, Shade, while also helping Gemma to track down her brother, who came subsea to work as a prospector.  As the gang closes in, attacking settlement homes and coming after Ty and Gemma, it will take all of Ty’s finely honed subsea skills to survive.

Age of Main Character: 15

What I Liked the Most: I’ve read plenty of books set in space or various post-apocalyptic wastelands, but I’ve never read one set underwater.  And let me tell you, Kat Falls does an awesome job with this setting.  I can only assume that she’s got some fairly extensive diving experience and an in-depth knowledge of oceanography, because everything she describes, from Ty swimming through a school of Marlin, to submarine chases, to life inside a subsea station feels right on target and utterly realistic.  Even the technology she incorporates feels spot on – the metal foam that the settlers build their houses from, which inflates when filled with air, the bubble fences they use to heat their property and keep predators away from their fish, and the liquigen they fill their lungs with when diving at extreme depths.  Every page of Dark Life made me feel like I was living underwater.  Please, give me more.

What I Liked the Least: The only really troubling part of Dark Like was the climax, which I found a bit confusing.  I don’t want to say too much, but be prepared for the fact that towards the end of the story there might be some confusion over who the real villain is.

How Good was the ActionDark Life occupies a solid middle ground between the non-stop action thriller and those books where the action takes a clear second place to character development, romance, or intrigue.  The action here is well balanced with other aspects of the story.  You won’t find a lot in terms of fights and chases, and the ones that do take place here are fairly short, but there is tension to spare.  Kat Falls knows how to write a good, pulse-pounding, near death scene that will leave you begging for more.  Enough said.

How Engaging was the Story?  One of things that Falls does really well in Dark Life is revealing Ty and Gemma’s backstory one clue at a time.  It’s not until the end of the book that finally know the truth about each of our main characters and what drives them.  And there are enough twists and surprises along the way to drive the story forward and keep us guessing.

Overall Assessment:  Dark Life is a fun and exciting dip into the rarely explored realm of the subsea post-apocalyptic novel that will get you thinking about the ocean in a whole new light.  The setting is spot on, the characters are well developed, and the action is just enough to keep your pulse up.  What more do you want in a good novel?

Profanity: Minimal

Sex: There’s a kiss or two and Ty can’t help but notice Gemma’s budding breasts.  But that’s about it.

Violence: Yes.  It’s not overly graphic.  There is some blood and pain, but on a relative scale of action novels, the violence in this one is fairly modest.


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