Book: Dark Life
Author: Kat Falls
Rating: 5 Stars (FB's Top Ten of 2010)
In Dark Life Kat Falls illuminates two disparate worlds existing in humanity’s future. One a lush, blue-hewn world where humans live in symbiotic harmony with nature under the sea. These intrepid pioneers of the deep emerge shortly after The Rising, led by the best scientists and engineers to colonize the last territory: the sea. The other, is populated by “topsiders” still clinging to the old ways and the last chunks of land not submerged by the oceans rising. Crammed in cities where space is a commodity, and subjugated under governmental emergency measures to keep the peace, competition for resources and viciousness rule.
But living subsea has altered the children of Benthic Territory. Besides being hardy workers, and learning to farm the sea for plankton and kelp, they can pilot subs, jet fins, mantaboards, flareguns, and harpins. They have adapted to the serene and yet sometimes harsh conditions of the deep better than those that live “Above”. And in some, evolution has bestowed a Dark Gift upon them-an otherworldly trait better suited for the dark fathoms than the light of day.
For Ty Townson, the territory’s only teenager, and his sister Zoe, living subsea on the homestead with their family and friends is full of life and adventure. Kids in the territory grow up faster than topside, and when Gemma Straid an escapee from a Commonwealth orphanage careens into Ty on an abandoned sub, life takes an unexpected turn. Hampered by her search for her lost brother who disappeared within the territory, and the threat of the vicious Seablite Gang, Ty learns to double-task and the adventure is a go from page one.
Dark Life is carefully and patiently thought out. Fall’s world-building has allowed for no margin of error. From the architecture and technology of the subsea homesteads, to the mentality of the Commonwealth, topsiders and the prospectors, it is all intensely believable. She’s thoughtfully plotted how a teenager like Ty would reflect being brought up entirely subsea, on the cusp of manhood with an amazing secret. Ty will end up having to make a life or death decision to protect his family, the homestead, and the future of Benthic Territory. But making that decision will alienate Gemma forever. Can he make that choice?
Dark Life is radiant, ingenious, and spontaneously fresh. I couldn’t help but be reminded by Star Wars, The Abyss, Seaquest, and that first Farstation episode of TNG, or the very first time I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Dark Life is a top-notch adventure for all ages that has definitely made my top ten for 2010. I expect it will have a permanent spot there.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review