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
Upon completing this novel, I went out onto the internet to see what others had to say about this book. The reviews were all over the place. Some loved the book and others not so much. I had a few reviews prior to reading that did not have the greatest praise for the novel. I put all that aside as I found the premise of the book to be quite interesting. A whole world built undersea just fascinated me. As our own population increases and we continue to make mess of the world this might not be so off in our future. I was captivated from the start. I found myself really engaged in the setting of the novel. The way the houses were built, how Kat Falls created this world where it really seem plausible to live undersea. The structure of the houses, the breathing mechanisms, etc. seemed so real that I was absorbed in the setting. I have this complete vision of the layout.
The storyline continued to grab me as the story unraveled. The characters are interesting characters that I think middle school students would really be able to understand and relate to. They are not overly complex by any means, but have issues that we all deal with. Ty was the first kid born undersea and Gemma is a “topsider” so reading them learn about one another is no different than trying to make friends with someone from across the tracks or different cultural background. I liked the Shade character and found him to be a pretty cool “bad guy”.
This is another good dystopia story. I have been on the dystopia kick lately, but that is due to all the books coming out in this genre. I think boys and girls would like this story. The ending is good, but I have to admit that I saw it coming from a mile away, but not everyone will be able to figure things out. This was a good enjoyable read to tie me over as I waited for my books from the library to come in. I honestly don't think students in high school would read this, but then again I have been wrong before.
Kat Falls - Author of Dark Life - Book Trailer
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