Science fiction has returned to middle grade, but it's gone undersea.

Dark Life is a fantastic tale set in a future where the seas have risen and life is crowded on land, but a new frontier has opened at the bottom of the ocean. Ty, a fifteen year old born on the ocean floor, fights undersea pirates and the onerous force of the Commonwealth's martial law to protect his family's homestead and one day claim land of his own. A topsider girl in search of her lost brother brings adventure and danger with her. This fish tale is filled with exotic Dark Life creatures and action more frenzied than a shark in chum.

RL: 4.8 CSM: n/a Rating: PG Content: Sweet kisses, Wild West violence, some blood

There is an innocent undertone of romance in this story, where women in the frontier are as uncommon and sought-after as the Old West. But a few sweet kisses are all that blossoms. The violence is Wild West style, with lots of action and vigilante justice threatening. The book starts with a blood spattered mini-sub, although whether the blood is human or sea creature is unknown.

While this book is technically "young adult" because of the age of the protagonists, it is clean enough that I consider it suitable for upper middle grade. The violence and kisses are mild enough to remain PG, but the story is probably best reserved for readers 10+. Advanced readers will enjoy the cool undersea creatures and all the tech that goes with deep sea exploration. With its fast pace and mystery, I heartily recommend Dark Life for advanced readers 10+, and avid lovers of boylit (including me).

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