Literature / Dark Life

Dark Life is a series of books written by author Kat Falls. She describes it as a combination of Wild West Pioneers, the ocean, and the X-Men. There are currently two books, Dark Life (2010) and Rip Tide (2011).

It follows the adventures of Ty, an undersea pioneer, and his friend Gemma, a "Topsider" looking for her missing brother. Together, they explore the undersea wilderness, encounter a gang of outlaws, and find out some of the dark secrets of their world.

This work contains examples of:

  • Battle Strip: Shade's sharkskin vest. Camouflage skin works better when it's uncovered.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Pretty.
    "Pretty doesn't say 'stow it'! He just throws a knife at your head and calls it a warning!"
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The settlers develop a bioluminescent shine from eating certain species of fish.
    • Also, a number of real bioluminescent creatures make cameos: Jellyfish, green lanternsharks, lanternfish, a siphonophore, algae plumes...
  • Bizarrchitecture: The settlers' houses are shaped like jellyfish or other invertebrate sea creatures, because those shapes deal with the water pressure better.
  • Bribe Backfire: Mayor Fife and Captain Reevis. He pretends he was "fanning himself" with the money.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes":
    Ty: Are you going to throw up?
    Gemma: No! [Beat] ...maybe.
  • The Cavalry: When all of the settlers show up to rescue the surfs.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Ty's ability to communicate in sign language comes in handy in book 2. Also, when Tupper points out that many creatures with biosonar can also use it to stun creatures.
  • Cool Boat: The Spectre—it's a submarine shaped like a shark!
  • Farm Boy: Ty—though their crops are various varieties of seaweed and their livestock are fish.
  • Fish out of Water: Many.
    • Gemma—with undertones of Blithe Spirit.
    • Ty, in the stack cities.
    • The Seablite Gang, pretty much everywhere.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Ty, about his time as a medical experiment.
  • Forced into Evil: The surfs. As soon as the coercion stops and the misunderstandings clear up, they're friends.
  • Global Warming: The setting is based on much higher ocean levels, the remnants of coastal cities on the sea floor, and the lack of available land for anyone who wants to live on the surface.
  • Hand Signals: All the pioneers know sign language, since they can't speak with Liquigen in their lungs.
  • Hand Wave: Decompression? What decompression? They have Liquigen, they'll be fine!
  • Hollywood Chameleons: Shade's Dark Gift. Interestingly, his power is based on the octopus—which really can do this, quite a bit better than a chameleon.
  • Ice King: Pretty earns the description "human freezer-burn".
  • Jailbait: Twenty-three-year-old Jibby keeps hitting on fifteen-year-old Gemma.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Zoe uses her electrical ability to revive a drowned Gemma in the climax of book 1.
  • The Medic: Pretty to the Seablite gang. Very much not your stereotypical medic...more of a Closest Thing We Got.note 
  • Meaningful Rename: The Seablite gang, though we don't know all of the meanings yet...
    • Shade: Can change the color of his skin—which, as a bonus, allows him to cultivate a reputation of being able to vanish like a ghost.
    • Eel: Electrical powers.
    • Pretty: Hypnotic being the resident Pretty Boy.
  • Meta Origin: Dark Gifts are the result of the intense pressure of undersea living.
  • Red Baron: Shade, maybe Hatchet. The rest of Seablite's chosen names are somewhat less intimidating.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: On the seafloor after massive landslides.
  • The Savage Indian: The Surfs play this role in the "Western" setting—at least at first.
  • Sea Monster: Of the real-life varieties: Red Devil Squid, giant sharks...