A gruesome discovery marks the start of another perilous adventure for underwater colonist Ty and his surface ally Gemma in this sequel to Dark Life, film rights for which have been picked up by Disney. While preparing to sell the season's seaweed crop, Ty stumbles across an abandoned township, its doors chained shut and its residents murdered. Soon after, the colonists' deal with another township goes bad, and Ty's parents are kidnapped. As Ty and Gemma try to track down those responsible and save their loved ones, they're forced to join up with the notorious Seablite Gang, infiltrate the rough-and-tumble town of Rip Tide, fight for their lives against sea monsters and human predators, and discover who's killing entire townships—and why. As with its predecessor, there's no shortage of action, intrigue, or daring exploits in this aquatic thriller. Atmospheric and tense, built around an expertly used postapocalyptic�meets�Wild West setting, this story's a whole lot of fun and won't disappoint fans of the first book. Ages 9�12. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Praise for DARK LIFE:
"There's no denying the nifty premise, solid characterization, and tense moments that contribute to a cinematic reading experience. Falls's undersea world warrants further exploration." - Publishers Weekly
"Falls creates an interesting reality in her new novel. . . . Based on the young ages of the characters, this book will appeal to middle grade readers, who will enjoy the novel's mystery and suspense. It is a definite must-read for SF fans." - Voice of Youth Advocates
"A Western . . . with plankton instead of cows, harpoons instead of six-shooters and submarines instead of covered wagons . . . and a few plot twists keep the tension high. A thrilling conversion of the classics to one of our newer frontiers." - Kirkus Reviews
“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." - Booklist
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
After the Rising, much of the Earth is flooded. Topsiders live in crowded highrises. Some cities are built on abandoned drilling platforms. Surfs, or the Surfeited Populations, live in domed, multi-story communities which travel subsea and float on the surface. A new population of pioneers has begun to live subsea. Topsiders are suspicious of pioneers because of the glow they develop from eating phosphorescent fish and the special power called Dark Life that the children develop. Sixteen-year old Ty and his friend Gemma become embroiled in a corrupt governmental oversight after they discover a township that has been anchored to the undersea garbage dump. All of the surfs aboard are dead and Ty is determined to find justice for them. After his parents are kidnapped, he and Gemma become frustrated with the authorities and set out to rescue them. The two teens travel to the renegade city Rip Tide to find answers. They learn that other Townships have disappeared and fight against the rising tide to save Drift, the most recently missing, as they also search for Ty's parents. This second in a series is a thrilling dystopian adventure with monstrous sea creatures as well as monstrous villains. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
VOYA - Mark Flowers
Having thoroughly charted the water-logged world inhabited by her characters in Dark Life (Scholastic, 2010/VOYA April 2010), Falls largely eschews world-building in this sequel, focusing instead on old-fashioned adventure. The adventure starts when Ty discovers a sunken cityonce the island home of a settlement of "Surfs" (surfeit population who live neither on the overpopulated mainland nor underwater, as Ty does). Meanwhile, Ty's parents are kidnapped in the process of making a trade deal with another Surf island, and he and his Topsider girlfriend, Gemma, must turn to her pirate brother for help. Intrigues and conspiracies abound as Ty and Gemma try to maneuver through the competing motives of the mainland police, the Surfs, and Ty's fellow ocean dwellers. Throughout, Falls displays an undeniable gift for long-range plotting, expertly weaving pieces of a growing mystery into an action-filled story and culminating in another twistily satisfying ending. Unfortunately, she is much less successful in the more mundane tasks of believable dialogue and voice, particularly that of Ty, who is saddled with heavily expositional prose, well after the task of recapping the first novel has passed. Similarly, some of the more prosaic plot elements can be clunky. Though the watery setting may (not unfairly) recall Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker (Little, Brown, 2010/VOYA August 2010), closer analogs can be found in land-based adventures such as Hardinge's The Lost Conspiracy (HarperCollins, 2009). But ultimately, Falls's prose does not live up to either of these antecedents, although her sense of story and setting should be more than enough for fans of the first novel. Reviewer: Mark Flowers
School Library Journal
Gr 6�10—In this futuristic follow-up to Dark Life (Scholastic, 2010), 15-year-old Ty Townson and his friend Gemma, a homeless orphan who used to live in an above-water trade station, discover a submerged township filled with bodies in a trash vortex. Later, when Ty's parents go missing, the duo sets out to find them, fearing they'll meet a similar fate. The first child born of settlers in a postapocalyptic, land-scarce world, Ty possesses a dark gift enabling him to "shine" and generate biosonar pulses used to his advantage in dangerous situations. Gemma's fear of water has kept her from moving in with the Townsons permanently, but her fondness for Ty and his family and her dark gift of exceptional hearing make her an equal protagonist. They seek out Gemma's older brother, Shade, the suitably named leader of the Seablite Gang, for help in gaining information from the local outlaws, and Ty is forced to prove himself in a no-holds-barred boxing match. One of many adventures in the plot, this descriptive scene illuminates the many-layered social-class structure and the setting. Readers will empathize with the subsea pioneers, such as Ty's parents hoping to develop a viable economy based on harvesting laver, a highly edible seaweed, and will relate to Captain Revas and her sometimes-misguided authoritarian decisions to protect the peace in her territory. Readers will immerse themselves in this burgeoning new world that leaves the door open for more adventures.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Ty, the underwater settler fromDark Life(2010), has to rescue his harvest, his parents and a slew of ragged surfs in this breakneck adventure.
The other settlers think Ty's parents are crazy for their willingness to do business with "surfs"—the unwanted surfeit population who sail the oceans in floating townships and are notorious for raids, crime and untrustworthy behavior. Were the cynics right? Drift township kidnaps Ty's parents and steals their crop of seaweed. While Ty searches for his parents, he finds signs that something bigger than the kidnapping of his parents is afoot: An entire township has sunk to the bottom of the ocean, its population left to die. Ty and his erstwhile girlfriend Gemma also learn a lot more about the politics of the settlements than they ever expected. Alas, despite Ty's frequent brushes with moral complexity—perhaps the laws protecting the settlement help make things so bad for the surfs they have few ethical choices; perhaps sometimes he needs to look "at the consequences down the line" for society instead of at his own immediate need—the ultimate resolution is all too simple.
Still, what with all the man-versus-crocodile cage fights and the boxing matches over pools of lamprey eels, moral complexity is hardly Ty's first concern in this nonstop, cinematic, CGI-ready adventure.(Science fiction. 11-13)