Oh my heavenly biscuits, I haven't been grabbed by a book the way Dark Life grabbed me in I don't know how long. I am going to give you an excerpt and let see for yourself:
I slammed the entry button. Like a dilating eye, the hatch opened and seawater filled the small chamber. Plunging into the air lock, I whirled to see sharks streaking toward me from all sides. I hit the interior button whole-handed. As the hatch clinched shut, the sharks plowed into it like mini torpedoes. From inside, they sounded like Death pounding at the door. I slumped against the chamber wall and grinned. Nothing put a buzz in my blood like escaping predators.
What do you say? Exciting enough for you? For your child aged 8 to 13? Heck, just those verbs would make me a brand-new fan of author Kat Falls - Slamming! Dilating! Plunging! Whirling! Whew!
But she is a fantastic storyteller too, putting together characters that we understand and can believe in with a natural economy. The setting is magnificent, too - the story is set in the future, after natural catastrophes have claimed much of the land. Our hero, Ty, lives in the new frontier - deep underwater. "Topside" life is crowded and unpleasant, so families like Ty's, aided by technical innovations that allow them to breathe underwater and live in inflatable homes, are forging new lives on the sea floor.
Did I write in a recent review that some stories can be retold time and again, with merely a change in costume and setting? Well, it's true. Dark Life is a classic frontier story, with outlaws and livestock and wilderness... and a pretty girl newly arrived from the East. Make that the surface.
Ty rides a mantaboard instead of a mustang pony, and the bad guys carry harpoon guns instead of rifles. The details of the family's glimmering undersea life are fascinating and imaginative. And while you might say that this book is technically post-apocalyptic (and you may lure the readers who love a good post-apocalypse in that way), it is set in the world's new frontier, so there's none of that hopeless struggling-for-survival-among-the-ruins stuff that some people find unpalatable for youngsters. Mystery and action are set against the broader drama of survival and self-determinism in an old-fashioned newfangled science fiction Western story. YES.