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Dark Falls #2: Rip Tide

Review

Dark Falls #2: Rip Tide

In DARK LIFE, author Kat Falls set a tense scene. In a dystopian future, conflict abounds between those living on a nearly decimated planetary surface and those pioneers who have used science to make a home on the sea floor. Two teenagers, forced by circumstances, bridge the gap between the two cultures and find themselves face to face with the fierce Seablite Gang. But, as readers learn in the follow-up, RIP TIDE, the gang is still a threat, and danger continues to lurk around every corner.

Gemma had been living with Ty and his family on their subsea farm, but after a frightening panic attack during a dive, she moves to a cramped storage closet on the surface. Ty thinks his affection for her has scared her away, but Gemma is afraid of something else altogether. Still the two are together one day, hiding some of the farm's crops in a vast underwater trash dump, when they stumble upon a floating township that has been sunk with its inhabitants still on board. But before they can fully grasp what has happened, Ty's parents are kidnapped.

Finding Ty's parents is made all the more difficult by uncooperative and corrupt officials, the interference of the Seablite Gang, and the complicated dynamic between the various strata of society. The surfs are oppressed and angry, and the settlers of the Benthic Territory, where Ty and his sister live, are unaware of the conditions topside. The differences between the groups (not to mention those living in the floating townships and those in the cramped, stacked cities) are being exploited by the government. Ty and Gemma must navigate treacherous waters, real and figurative, to rescue Ty's parents, try to find out who is sinking townships, maintain their uneasy relationship with the Seablite Gang, and avoid becoming prey for giant sharks and fearsome giant crocodiles.

In DARK LIFE, Falls used motifs from a variety of genres: westerns, sci-fi, adventure and coming of age. In RIP TIDE, she relies more on the strength of the story and her ability to create a new world. Though there are plenty of sci-fi touches (the series begins with the idea that people can live under the sea, gaining special powers from the water pressure), this second installment is more of a pure adventure story. An aggressive squid makes an appearance within the first few pages, which is just a prelude to the discovery of the township almost immediately after. The action is fast, almost non-stop, with a couple of good plot twists and some wicked details illuminating the sad state of affairs in this new world.

RIP TIDE is well written and well paced, and the simplicity of its language betrays the complexity of its ideas. While the futuristic bits are fun and clever, the real power here is in the way Falls examines corruption of authority, oppression of the masses, and issues such as prejudice, poverty and stereotyping. Not only is this an entertaining adventure and a worthy sequel, it is a thought-provoking tale about power, determination, family and friendship.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on August 1, 2011

Dark Falls #2: Rip Tide
by Kat Falls

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2011
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 0545178436
  • ISBN-13: 9780545178433