Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Premise: Dive deep into the vivid underwater world of Dark Life! 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. (Amazon)

Title: Dark Life
Author: Kat Falls
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: First book in the Dark Life series
Content appropriate for: Grades 5-8
                      3.5 stars
Three Adjectives: engaging, adventurous, unique

In a time when readers are inundated with post-apocalyptic, dystopian novels, Dark Life breaths new life into old themes. The author, Kat Falls, combines the Wild West, mutants, and marine life to craft what should have been fantastic book. I found myself cheering on Ty in his pursuit of the Seablite Gang, yet in a more skilled writer's hands, this book would have earned four, possibly five stars in my rating. 

What this book truly lacked was pace; it could have benefited from being trimmed down by 30-50 pages. The stretches between the action-packed moments of chase and discovery were often bogged down with forced dialogue and awkward exposition. At times, Falls failed to paint a clear picture of what was happening because of the technology of this world, but at the same time I could clearly picture the magnificent jellyfish houses of the subsea homesteads. 

In spite of its flaws, the mystery of this story was quite intriguing. I found Ty and his family to be dynamic and colorful characters, while Gemma was an admirable female protagonist. What this story lacked in strong craft, it made up in imagination and adventure. I'm not sure that I will continue to read this series, but I still would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new twist on the dystopian novel.

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