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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!
  • Fantastic Slurs: The Title Drop "Dark Life" for the mutated people.
  • 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.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: The dive skins. Justified as they are futuristic divers' suits and most of the series happens underwater.
  • 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.
  • Good with Numbers: Hewitt. This is a result of his Dark Gift.
  • The Government: Uncaring at best. Trying to take over everything and leave the settlers in a rut, at worst. They Would Cut You Up is the reason everybody with a Dark Gift does their damnedest to keep it secret.
  • Guys Are Slobs: Eel is, anyway.
    "You mean the bunk the stinks so bad even you won't sleep in it?"
  • 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.
  • Honor Among Thieves: The Seablite gang. Pretty much has evolved into True Companions by the events of the story.
  • Ice King: Pretty earns the description "human freezer-burn".
  • Jailbait: Twenty-three-year-old Jibby keeps hitting on fifteen-year-old Gemma.
  • Justified Criminal: Both the Seablite gang and the Drift surfs. Trying to survive in an uncaring world, and in the case of the Seablites because they can't afford to risk being discovered by the government.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The Seablite gang eventually gets to the "stealing from the rich" part.
  • Kid Hero: Ty and Gemma are both 15.
  • Kiss of Life: After Gemma drowns in book 1.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Zoe uses her electrical ability to revive a drowned Gemma in the climax of book 1.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: Dark Gifts — mutant abilities, based on actual sea creatures' capacities mostly, but some go straight into artistic license (how would a human evolve a natural sonar?) and others (like Zoe's) are plainly absurd.
  • 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 powers...plus being the resident Pretty Boy.
  • Meta Origin: Dark Gifts are the result of the intense pressure of undersea living.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Ratter" is sure to be a pleasant fellow, right?
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Ty doesn't let us know exactly what was said.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Ty promises Gemma this.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Ty and Gemma go straight to the authorities with news of Shade...and are told to go away.
  • No Social Skills: The Seablite Gang, according to Shade.
  • No Water Proofing In The Future: Very much averted. Everything is designed with the possibility of water (not to mention the pressure) getting to it.
  • Ocean Punk: The waters have taken all coastal cities, many New Old West tropes are applied to the settlers of the sea, the governments are constantly trying to short-change and backstab everybody, technology has made it so anybody can afford their own Underwater Base (although it's not cheap, hence the rebirth of the Determined Homesteader), and in between all of this people are being born with superpowers that allow them to thrive in the depths of the sea with ease... and said government would kill to get.
  • 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...

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