Bored with the good old cliches of futuristic fiction?
Good news! There's new kidlit in dystopia town, and it's set neither on land or in space. Goodbye space cowboys, hello undersea frontiersmen.
That's right, Dark Life takes place in our nearest Great Unknown, the ocean. Having grown up a half an hour drive from the Pacific, I can spend hours at the tide pools or the aquarium, and many of my fondest childhood memories are of crabbing and deep sea fishing. I'll freely admit I find the vast expanse of waters to be both entrancing and terrifying. The whole state will be plummeting into that infinite deepness any day now, right? Out of state friends like to remind me that.
The premise of Dark Life is not too far off from that. Portions of the United States as it is now have fallen below sea level and the remaining land is far from hospitable. While those living on land are, it is hinted, living in a more traditional dystopia, the main story focuses on the lives of those who have chosen to settle under the sea.
(And yes, I did have "Under the Sea" [badah da dah] stuck in my head pretty much the entire time I read the book.)
The story shows us a close knit group of colonists caught between the threat of governmental bullying and the rampaging of a group of particularly mysterious bandits. Our protagonist is a teenage boy who, like most teenage boys in novels, gets in scrapes against his overprotective parents' wishes, meets a spunky teenage girl on a mission (whom he has to rescue over and over), and glows in the dark. Ok, maybe that last part isn't as common. The unusual diet consumed by those living under the sea [badah da dah] does cause those born there to give off a certain uncanny shine. But rumor has it that the glow is not the only side effect of sea life on the new generation.
It is fairly easy to see where the author got her inspiration, there were plenty of familiarities in the storyline and personalities of the characters, much of the dialogue felt stilted, and there were far too many adventures per page, but somehow I still enjoyed the world of Dark Life. There was a beauty to the world and a true warmth in the community that often seems so sadly lacking in dystopian novels.
And no, this has nothing to do with accessories, but it could! Aren't jellies wonderful works of art?
I love this etsy shop and its past jellyfish necklaces:
And isn't this necklace and broach set amazing?