Dark Life by Kat Falls is an underwater adventure story. Falls wrote a story that would entertain her own son, who only liked Westerns, books about the oceans, and comic books. Falls is also an experienced screenwriter, so the book at times also reads likes a movie. These factors combined with a truly original setting make this a book that has been very popular in my classroom.
Ty Townsend, sixteen, was the first child born underwater, where his parents are pioneers following the catastrophic flooding of the earth. He lives with his parents and his sister on an underwater farm, and the family grows crops for the Topsiders who remain on the tiny pieces of land still uncovered. Ty meets Gemma, an orphaned Topsider girl, while exploring one day, and the two of them almost immediately run into the Seablite Gang, outlaws who have been interfering with trade and terrorizing the Benthic Territory where Ty and his family live. Adventure ensues, including a search for Gemma's missing brother, more confrontations with the Seablite Gang, and a mysterious underwater research facility.
Dark Life reads more like a Western pioneer story than a piece of science fiction or dystopian lit, and that's exactly what I liked about it. The book is also fast-paced once the underwater world has been explained. The students in my class read it fast, and immediately demanded the early copy of the sequel that one student won at a bookstore. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure, and I look forward to reading the sequel if I can ever get it back from my students.
There's nothing in this book to keep it out of a classroom. In fact, it would make an excellent read aloud or whole class read. This is a book that sparks conversations: Would you live Topside or underwater? Is the Seablite Gang good or bad? Should the Benthic Territory have the right to self-government? I look forward to having these very conversations with my students as they read this book.
Coming this summer: