Dark Life: Book 1 - Kat Falls
Fifteen-year-old Ty has spent his entire life living underwater. After the sea rose up and the coasts collapsed underwater, land “topside” has become scarce. Ty’s family is part of new generation of homesteaders who have settled on the ocean floor, farming fish and kelp. When a gang of outlaws begins raiding homesteads, Ty sets out to save his way of life before the government puts an end to the undersea Benthic Territory.

Dark Life is very plot driven, and wastes no time getting into the action. The story begins as Ty investigates a seemingly abandoned sub, where he finds both a splatter of blood and a girl from the surface, Gemma. The beginning is a bit awkward, as the author throws out a lot of terminology all at once. Ty is also a bit too quick to trust Gemma, who claims she’s only looking for her prospector brother, but luckily his trust is not misplaced. Both Ty and Gemma are strong characters, and grow on the reader very quickly.

Kat Falls borrows liberally from the American pioneer movement; the underwater settlements are founded on a variation of the historical Homestead Act. The undersea world of the “Dark Life” is filled with miners, outlaws, trading posts, and saloons. In many ways, Dark Life is a story of the American West with an underwater setting.

The plot focuses on the mystery of the bloodied sub, and the origins of the notorious Seablite Gang. It’s a very addictive read, but the story takes a slight turn for the absurd in the latter half of the novel after Ty reveals he has a “Dark Gift.” Evidently, the water pressure at high depths can affect human development, leading to kids developing superpowers. Ty can not only use his hearing as a kind of sonar, but can also send out various “clicks” like a dolphin. It’s scientifically impossible, and requires a huge suspension of disbelief that may turn off older readers.

However, if the reader is willing to go with the idea, Dark Life is a very fun action-mystery novel. Just turn off your brain, dive in, and enjoy.

A finished copy was provided through the goodreads.com First Reads program.