Monday, June 21, 2010

DARK LIFE by Kat Falls

I read DARK LIFE by Kat Falls this week while traveling and I really enjoyed it. It is definitely science-fiction/fantasy. It is a futuristic story of a city under the sea. Because land is scarce, people are packed in on the earth. Ty is sixteen years old and is one of the few children that has been raised in the ocean.

Early in the story, Ty meets Gemma, who lives "Topside" but has come under sea to look for her older brother. They have quite an adventure. It seems that outlaws are attacking the undersea community and chaos is part of daily life. It is up to the citizens of the city to find the outlaws. Ty and Gemma get involved in the search and face many dangerous situations.

One thread throughout the book is the idea of "dark gifts". Some people believe that children who were born and raised under water have unnatural gifts due to the water pressure. Ty denies having one of these "gifts" as do the other character. This is a thread that comes up throughout the story.

At first, I thought this book was like CITY OF EMBER. That is the thing that drew me to it. In a way, it is that kind of a book--a futuristic story in which the children take on grown-up problems and try to save their home. But this book was a much different read. Ty has no desire to leave the underwater city. As a matter of fact, he is working hard to stay there. His parents were original settlers and researchers of the settlement and he believes in what they are doing and in the hope that he can soon own his own land underwater. This story is also a bit more complex than City of Ember. For me, it was a bit more difficult to envision the underwater city and the buildings, weapons, vehicles, etc. that were part of it. I had to do a bit more work to understand. And, finally, there was a bit of a romance between Ty and Gemma that makes this seem to be meant for more middle-school readers. (Many reviews say that the book is for ages 9-12. It seems more like it is 11-14ish to me but I could be wrong.)

Overall, a really good book. A great book for kids who have read and enjoyed the City of Ember series and a great one to stretch kids who love fantasy, adventure, and survival stories.

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