Ty was the first kid born in the undersea settlers’ community. His family has a soft jellyfish-shaped house, they farm fish, and they swallow Liquigen whenever they need to breathe underwater. People who live above the sea call them Dark Life.

Ty can’t wait to stake his own underwater homestead claim when he turns 18, in just three years, but now outlaws are threatening the future of the undersea territories. For months, the Seablight Gang has been roaming about, robbing every supply ship that tries to get through.

With a gang of outlaws on the loose, Ty definitely shouldn’t have gone off exploring Coldsleep Canyon alone, but he wanted to see a submerged skyscraper from the old East Coast. The Statue of Liberty is buried somewhere out there.

A pack of lantern sharks chases him out of the canyon. Ty is lucky to find refuge in a derelict submarine. He shouldn’t be exploring an old sub alone either, but breaking that rule seems better than getting torn apart by sharks.

He’s relieved he’s made it to safety, but inside the sub, Ty finds himself in a room covered with blood. He wants to believe that a fisherman butchered a really big fish in there, maybe a marlin or sunfish. But how could a fish—even a big one—have emptied the weapons rack and torn it off the wall?

Ty’s nerves are all jittery. Blood is everywhere. The sharks are still knocking against the submarine, trying to find a way in. He’s broken more rules than he can count.

And then he hears footsteps. There’s someone else inside the submarine with him.


Genre: Science fiction

Grades 6-10.


J’s take on it:

DARK LIFE was my top sixth grade booktalk title last fall, by far. I got my audience hooked in with the cliffhanger ending to the booktalk. There’d always be groans — even from teachers — when I stopped. They absolutely needed to know what happened next.

This is a slightly older title (published in 2010), and a number of the school libraries in our area already had it in their collections. Often, the book hadn’t been checked out in a while, but kids raced to the shelves for it after the booktalks.

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