Friday, 6 August 2010
Review: Dark Life by Kat Falls
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: August 5th, 2010
Grade rating: B+
Ty has lived under the ocean for his entire life. Following global warming and the rise of the seas, his family joined an underwater community in hopes of living in the new frontier of the ocean floor. But When Ty meets Gemma, a girl from "topside", who is searching the seas for her brother, she quickly makes his life very complicated. Together Ty and Gemma face dangerous sea creatures and venture into the frontier town's rough underworld as they search for her missing brother. But the deeper they dig, the more attention they attract, and soon Ty and Gemma find themselves being hunted by a gang of outlaws who roam the underwater territories causing havoc, and who seem to have eerie abilities...
Dark Life is a fantastic, original piece of storytelling that is both engaging and ambitious. It's told from a male perspective, which I loved, and features an underwater world that was completely new to me.
When whole continents were destroyed by rising oceans, Ty and his family formed a settlement underwater, and forged an existence as farmers. Those still living on land above were named Topsiders, and very rarely ventured below the ocean waves. This is the whole basis for Dark Life, and I personally think it's a brilliantly realised idea. Ty and his family and friends all live in what I can only describe as a real-life fish tank, complete with houses, animals and every sea creature you can possibly think of. I must admit, I could never, ever live like that, as sharks and jellyfish aren't my idea of a good time. I really admired the life Ty's family created for themselves, though, and I loved how they became a part of the ocean community.
With so many new ideas and structures being described in Dark Life, I found the visualisation process quite difficult. I wasn't familiar with a lot of the constructions and transport, so seeing them in my head was a bit of an exercise in imagination. This isn't always my strong point, but it did get easier as the book progressed, and I got used to what Falls was talking about. She had some wonderful concepts, each one better than the last.
Ty's narration was my favourite part of Dark Life. I'm a big fan of male narration, and it's something I don't think we see enough of. I went into the book thinking it would be from Gemma's perspective, but was pleasantly surprised to find out different. Ty is a great character: he's brave, intelligent and oddly innocent, thanks to his life below land. Like everyone, he has secrets he's desperately trying to hide, and his revelations along the way were surpising, if a little expected every now and then. Gemma makes a good friend for him, and together they embark on a journey of friendship, adventure and danger - the latter being no thanks to creepy villain Shade.
The world Falls created within Dark Life's deep oceans blew me away, and I can't wait to see the story in movie form. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down, and that's testament to the great writing and storytelling within its pages. As Gemma would say, it's "glacial"!