The first time I remember seeing this book was at one of Charlotte's Science fiction and fantasy round ups. I must confess, I don't read all the summaries. Sometimes I simply look at the cover. That's what I did with Dark Life. It didn't stand out enough for me to stop. When I saw it in the store the next day, I did a double take. Some covers must been seen in person for the full effect. Dark Life has on of those covers. After, reading the first three pages, I was very excited. Why? - 1 male protagonist - not including continuing series there seem to be less middle grade novels with male leads this year. 2. Its an apocalyptic future story set in the deep sea. Apocalyptic tales are very popular right now but as far as I know no middle grade novels that explore humans living in the deep sea.
3 " But my trance was cut short by a series of green sparks bursting out of the gorge. I fell back, every muscle in my body tense. Only one fish glittered like an emerald and traveled in a pack: the green lantern shark. Twelve inches long and deadly as piranhas, they could rip apart something twenty times their size. Forget what they could do to a human. I should have seen it coming even this deep. I should have known the squid had squirted its radiant goo to diver a predator. And now my helmet's crown lights served as an even brighter beacon. With a jab to my wrist screen, I snapped them off, but it was too late - I couldn't unring that dinner bell."
That's from the first page. Its a very strong beginning. There's action, danger, science facts and great visuals. If a reader isn't sold on the cover, if you can get them to read the first page you might hook them.
In Dark Life thanks to global warming there's less land. People are forced to lived crammed together. Ty's parents were pioneers in the movement to living in the ocean. 15 yrs later the Benthic Terriory is establishing itself as a viable living option. Ty was the first child born in the deep sea. Dark Falls opens with Ty exploring and meeting Gemma, a topsider, (a person who lives on land) Gemma's searching for her older brother, Richard.
When Ty turns 18 he's going to claim his own land. His plans are threatened when the government forces the people of the Benthic Territory to catch outlaws raiding government supply ships. The outlaws known as Seablite gang are becoming more dangerous. Ty is willing to go up against the leader to protect his way of life.
The people of the Benthic Territory are struggling for independence, rights and respect. The deep sea setting is something very different, the author uses this to her advantage. Since Ty diet includes abyssal fish, his skin has a shine to it. As, Ty shows Gemma around the territory and his home, we learn how people are able to live and thrive in the ocean.
All children born in the deep sea have a special ability known as a dark gift. Ty has decided to hide his ability. Since he's the oldest the other children follow his lead. Falls explains the reasoning behind Ty's wanting to keep his ability a secret. Though I wished the author would've expanded on the idea of the dark gift.
Dark Falls has some nice action and close call moments. It's also a very visual story. Ty comes face to face with many different ocean animals. I am looking forward to seeing what the author does with Ty. At the end everyone knows about dark gift. I hope the author will explore the stories of the pioneers. I would love to hear Ty's parents tell stories of the first few years. Especially Ty's mother, who seems like a strong female protagonist to balance out Gemma.
Deep Sea life doesn't scare Gemma, she's fearless but that girl is not quick. At the end Gemma is used as a shield or a hostage twice. The first time I was like okay it happens. The second time I was like come on Gemma please be aware of your surroundings or have quick feet. Soon after the second time Ty must save Gemma again. The last incident Gemma couldn't have prevented but a female character having to be saved so many times by the male character rubs me the wrong way.
Falls has created a detailed world. The author does an excellent job of incorporating answers of how humans can survive in the deep sea. I enjoyed Dark Falls. It was an entertaining read with some serious growth potential. I think young readers who enjoy non fiction books on ocean life will really enjoy it. Read an excerpt