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Dark Life: Book 1 Paperback – February 1, 2011

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Dark Life: Book 1 + Dark Life Book 2: Rip Tide + Inhuman
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Dark Life (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545178150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545178150
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–10—In this futuristic coming-of-age tale, 15-year-old Ty has spent his whole life in a deep-sea colony on the ocean floor. His family and the other pioneers provide fish and other food for the Commonwealth citizens who live aboveground in stacked cities following earthquakes and tsunamis that destroyed much of the Earth. The pioneers chafe under the harsh rule of the Commonwealth, a situation made worse when those who live subsea are charged with capturing a gang of pirates that has been terrorizing Commonwealth ships and pioneer homesteads. Ty is swept up in the hunt for the bandits when Gemma, a "Topsider" orphan, comes to his community to search for her missing brother, who may have ties to the pirates. First-time author Falls has created a riveting adventure story that action fans and reluctant readers will enjoy for its fast pace. Teens will like the budding romance between Ty and Gemma and the marvelous, imaginative depictions of life on the ocean floor. Minor characters, such as Ty's neighbors and younger sister, are fully fleshed out in their few short scenes. Although the identity of Gemma's brother and the subplot regarding his past with the pioneers' doctor are hastily explained and not completely satisfying, this is a small point that doesn't detract from the creative setting, adventurous plot, and likable teen heroes. Readers will cheer Ty on in his pursuit of the pirates and clamor for more tales of undersea life.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Sixteen-year-old Ty, first child born to the pioneers who live in the depths of the ocean, has little patience for topsiders (land dwellers) until he meets feisty Gemma, who immediately enlists his help to locate her missing older brother. Their search is interrupted by pirate attacks of the notorious Seablite Gang and an ultimatum from the Commonwealth Government (located topside) that makes the pioneers responsible for stopping the raids. Ty and Gemma uncover connections between the pirates, illicit medical experiments, and Gemma's missing sibling, who happens to have secret supernatural gifts—like Ty. Although set in an undersea future, this rousing adventure has all the hallmarks of a western, including outlaws, homesteaders, and plenty of shoot-'em-up action (only with harpoonlike weapons). Good guys and bad guys are fairly obvious, as is the outcome, but the exotic setting and well-conceived details about undersea living, along with likable characters and a minor surprise at the end, will keep readers turning the pages. Try this with the ecofiction of David Klass. Grades 6-9. --Cindy Welch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Kat Falls lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband, theater director Robert Falls, their three children and a whole slew of pets. She grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as an undergrad and went on to receive an MFA from Northwestern University where she now teaches.

Kat came up with the idea for her debut novel, Dark Life (Scholastic Press, May 2010), during a writing exercise. Knowing that her 11-year-old son loved reading about the ocean, Wild West pioneers and, of course, the X-Men, she combined his interests and created a story premise that kept her up nights plotting and world-building.

Today, Dark Life has deals in eighteen international markets and is in development for film at Disney with the Gotham Group producing. Named an ABC New Voices pick for outstanding debuts of 2010, Dark Life was featured on The Today Show in July 2010 when it was selected by Al Roker for "Al's Book Club for Kids." Dark Life has been nominated for children's book awards in ten states and Kat was given a Juvenile Literary Award by The Friends of American Writers'.

The sequel, Rip Tide, was released by Scholastic Press in August, 2011. Each book has been designated as "A Junior Library Guild Selection."

Currently, Kat is working on a YA scifi-adventure trilogy, Inhuman, acquired by Scholastic Press for publication beginning in September 2013.

Kat's website: http://katfalls.com/

Dark Life's Scholastic Page: http://www.scholastic.com/darklife/

Dark Life Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCjp2JdIz48

Link to The Today Show segment with Al Roker: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/38575795#38575795

Customer Reviews

Can't wait to read the next book...RipTide!
Readers will get sucked into Dark Life quickly, as Kat Falls has a knack for telling a fun and interesting story, keeping things simple, but action packed.
Alex C. Telander
I will definitely be checking out her sequel, and recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA lit, science fiction, and/or supernatural fantasy.
Elizabeth M. Wade

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kat Falls has a solid base hit with her first YA SF novel. I really like her character, Ty, because he's the kind of kid I expect to be doing all the exciting things he does in this novel. He's old enough to be salty (yeah, I know, the ocean, pun intended) and still young enough to believe he's invincible. This is the kind of hero that Robert A. Heinlein made so popular in his juvenile science fiction novels. I grew up on those, so I'll probably always have a soft spot for that kind of hero.

Ty's viewpoint in this novel is important for several reasons. Chief among those is the fact that his first person narrative drags readers into the story immediately. I loved the opening because we got into action at once in the middle of a world that we gradually got introduced to. But that first person viewpoint is tremendously important to the plot because Ty tells us a lot, but he doesn't tell us everything. At least, he doesn't tell us everything all at once.

I also fell in love with the world. I have to point out that the author plays fast and loose with some of the decompression issues in the real world (especially in the exciting climax), but that was easy to swallow because she was hurtling along at breakneck speed. Several times after reading passages, I just closed my eyes and fully realized the world that came to life on those pages. I think the image of those jellyfish houses is one that will stay with me forever. The imagery was just so strong and perfect that I was swimming in those waters at Ty's side. For someone who enjoys day-tripping into other worlds, it just doesn't get any better.

After I finished reading the book, I gave it to my 12 year old and he read it in two days.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer on February 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Due to global warming causing the land to flood and the eastern seaboard to sink into the ocean, there's not enough land for people to live on and barely enough to grow food. In an attempt to solve the food and energy shortages, the Commonwealth government allowed settlers to move under the ocean, to own their own land, as long as they harvested kelp and fish and maintained the energy resources for those who live topside. Engineers and scientist jumped on the chance to create underwater homesteads and develop farming practices that would help feed people. Many of these scientists also became some of the first underwater settlers of the Benthic Territory. The promise of having your own home and a hundred acres after two years of working the land draws many more people looking to make a new life. Despite the fact that many of the settlers are some of the best minds in their fields and provide them with food, Topsiders believe it unnatural not to live on land. They call the Benthic Territory settlers "Dark Life" a reference to bacteria that the settlers find insulting. Then throw in the fact that lack of sun exposure makes them very pale and eating lots of bioluminescent fish give them a slight glow, and the settlers seem even less than a part of Commonwealth society.

Ty was the first child born under the sea, and of the 22 children in the territory, he's the only teenager. His discovery of Gemma (a teenage topsider) gives him the first opportunity to socialize with someone his own age. Gemma is looking for her brother who is living in the territory, but nobody seems to know him. Gemma is amazed by life under the ocean, all of the space available, and the fact that settlers actually know who each other are. She's also quite intrigued by the stories of Dark Gifts.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Baumann VINE VOICE on May 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Plot Summary: It's finally happened, just like the doomsday guys have predicted - great chunks of land have slid into the ocean. The topsiders are crammed into skyscrapers, while a brave few live under the sea and grow the food that keeps humankind alive. Ty is a teenage boy who was born and raised on the sea floor, and he's developed some unique abilities, which he keeps secret at all costs. While exploring a deserted submarine, he finds a girl named Gemma who ran away from the topside to find her brother.

This is an action-packed story with a nifty premise at its core, and although Dark Life did not go deep enough to really satisfy me, I could see it succeeding with tween readers. I've been waiting to read a post-apocalyptic science fiction story where most of the Earth is under water, because I've always found the oceans to be more mysterious than outer space. Kat Falls followed through with surprising sea creatures, vivid descriptions, and believable technologies to make undersea life feasible, and those parts made it a fun read. I can see why this book has been optioned for a movie.

Ty is a sweet, likable hero, and at 15-years-old he's still young enough to be innocent, but old enough to take an interest in Gemma. It's not hard to understand why he's so willing to help her, given how rare teenagers and females are under the sea. Gemma, on the other hand, was not so easy to like. Her stubborn side wasn't endearing to me, and I struggled to stay interested in her fate.

This young adult novel skews toward the young side of the spectrum, and I could see this being a big hit with the boy crowd. The hero has cool powers, he's constantly getting into trouble, and he helps save the day.
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