Monday, December 17, 2012

Dark Life (Dark Life #1) by Kat Falls

This book is one on the current Truman nominees list that my students are reading and voting on this school year.  It was one that looked really good to me, and I'd been excited to read for awhile.  I was able to get a copy for pretty cheap at the school book fair back in September, but haven't had time to read it till now!!  Dark Life was a quick read.  It was pretty good, had humor and adventure, and I liked the science fiction/dystopian parts as well.  I did get a little tired of the "he blushed, and hoped she wasn't looking" type of lines in the book, but hey, it's for middle-schoolers, so not that big of a deal I guess.
The main character is Ty, he lives underwater, and has his whole life.  You see, some time in the past, the Eastern coast dropped into the ocean, and land became precious.  People had to start living in very tall stacked up building.  Lucky if a family had more than one room to live in.  But, there was an offer, people who went and made homesteads on the ocean floor and stayed for a certain amount of time, would be given a large stake of land after that time.  Ty can't wait for the day he can do this.  But things are great right now.  There are pirates, called the Sea Blite gang, that are terrorizing the settlers, as well as the government.  And really, the settlers aren't even getting a very good deal from the government on the crops they are producing that feed the people on land.
One day when Ty is out where he's not supposed to be by himself, he comes across a sunken sub, that he ends up using to hide from some of the giant underwater creatures.  Inside he finds he is not alone.  A girl from the Topside, named Gemma is there.  Turns out she's come down to try to find her brother.  The sub is covered in blood.  And so they're not sure what has happened there.  But while they're hiding there, the pirates come along to take the sub.  So they do escape, and Ty takes Gemma back home and decides to see what he can help her.  But while all this is happening, the government is telling the settlers they must catch the pirates or the government will withdraw all of the help they've given.  And one of the homesteads is attacked by the pirates.  Ty goes over to try to help them, and even sees the pirates, including the main scary one, Shade.  Turns out Shade also sees him, and marks him, and Gemma.  As they get closer to the mystery of where Gemma's brother is, it was his blood in the sub they found, it all seems to lead to an unwanted, dangerous confrontation with Shade.
While this wasn't the best in world building.  I'd like to hear some more about the Topside and how things are on land, it was very neat to read about how the houses worked under the sea.  And the Dark Life, means that there was rumors that kids born under the sea, or that lived there for a certain length of time developed special powers.  And Ty, he was the first kid born down there.  So Gemma suspects he might have a power.  Like the one case that there was a big article about in her world, even if it was declared a fraud, she won't give up on the idea.
A fun read, and quick as I said.  But compared to some of the other nominees on the Truman list this year, I don't see it as the winner.  But I will definitely be recommending it!  And I was able to get the sequel for half-price at a Scholastic Warehouse sale this weekend, so I'll be reading on when I get some time.