Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

DARK LIFE by Kat Falls

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. Not only did he enjoy it, but we had long, serious talks about what life underwater would be like. As it turns out, he was just as captivated by the idea as I was.

But he also had some of the same concerns that I did. The writing, and I know this was intentional, is delivered with a strong western flavor–as in frontier cowboy. Some of the homestead talk and life as pioneers immediately lends itself to that, but often it tended to overshadow the fact that this is a science fiction novel.

The plot seems to be straight out of a Western novel to a degree as well. The frontier town is menaced by outlaws that raid at will and take what they want.

Kat Falls also has several neat mysteries wrapped up in her tale. The origin of the Seablite pirates as well as the mystery of Akai the pioneer boy with strange “gifts ” keeps the pages turning up as well as the action. The title Dark Life plays on several levels and is clever.

Whenever your pleasure–adventure, budding teen romance, mystery, or science fiction–you’ll find something to fall in love with in this book. I just hope Kat Falls decides to return to this interesting world soon. I can’t wait to dive in again.


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