Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (February 1, 2011)
First Sentence: "I peered into the deep-sea canyon, hoping to spot a toppled skyscraper."
Dark Life is set sometime in our future. The sea has risen and cities have toppled into the ocean. The humans remaining on the few scraps of land left are packed into mega high density buildings and the sea bed is the only place left for farming and space. It is being slowly colonised and is the equivalent of the wild wild west US in the 1800's.
This is where Ty calls home. He has lived here his whole life with his parents being among the original colonisers. He lives on a homestead in a large house with his sister. It was a pretty peaceful existence fishing and farming kelp on his parents farm.
Then he meets Gemma, a topsider looking for her brother, and everything changes.
This was a great debut novel. It had a nice mix of action and information for the reader. For a post apocalyptic story it has an interesting twist being set in the sea, and the area being a frontier type settlement. Also it makes a nice change from zombies.
The territory though is full of secretes which are slowly revealed through out the book. Some secrets are easily guessed but some you don't see coming till they are revealed. This is the first book in a series but could easily be read as a stand alone.
The characters were well fleshed out and believable. Gemma is incredibly brave, however this does lead to some incredibly stupid decisions. Also she sometimes she seems to be brave for the sake of it when all sense goes out the window. Ty is also brave but in a much more practical manner. He seems to be very aware of the world and does not view it through rose tinted glasses.
I really enjoyed the cultural changes to this world. For instance it seems women from topside wear full length dresses similar to what was worn in the 1800's. Its not explained why exactly. Plus they scorn and fear the colonists who live under the sea. It was interesting to see the Government referred to as the Commonwealth (or 'wealth in the book). I would be curious to know how it came to be called the Commonwealth. It almost seems like this future as reverted back to past traditions and beliefs.
This is the first dystopian, post-apocalyptic world I think I would want to live in. The under seas colony sounded like a kick ass idea, and why don't we do it anyway.
A great start to a series I will be interested to follow.