If you’ve read my review of Dark Life you’ll recall my spiel about how the Moon has received more exploration than our own deep oceans. Subsequently, this means that books about ocean colonization are significantly rarer than books about space colonization. Dark Life was a pretty good book, but what if you’re looking more books on ocean colonization? Have no fear, the sequel is here!
Today we’ll be discussing Rip Tide, Dark Life book 2, by Kat Falls. Rip Tide picks up a few months after the events of Dark Life. Things have been going pretty well for Ty and the people of Benthic Territory. That all changes when Ty’s parents are kidnapped. Now it’s a race against the clock to save them before it’s too late. Ty’s going to need the help of his topsider friend Gemma, and maybe even a few outlaws, if he’s going to get to the bottom of this mystery.
So, you guys know that I loved Dark Life, but how well does Rip Tide stack up? Overall it does extremely well. In fact, I’m almost tempted to say it was even better than its predecessor.
You’ll recall that the Dark Life series is a Western set in a subsea science fiction setting. In this installment we get to meet the analog to the Native Americans. They’re called Surfs, short for Surface Population, and they were the original ocean settlers before the subsea pioneers came along. Territorial disputes with the pioneers have forced them onto reservation-esque settlements known as townships that float on the surface of the ocean. Admittedly, I was kind of hoping that the Native American stand-ins would turn out to be something like Atlanteans or mermaids. However, the Surfs turned out to have a vibrant and fascinating culture that I enjoyed getting to know.
The descriptions in this book were really great. When scenes of characters cooking seafood were described it was almost as if I could smell shrimp being fried and clams being roasted. When there were scenes set in a flooding jail I felt like I was slogging through the water along with everyone else. It really made the story that much easier to imagine for me.
I also enjoyed the character development. We get to see Gemma become a stronger character as she grows to accept her new subsea life. It was also nice to see a more nuanced view of the Seablite Gang. They may be a gang of outlaws, but they wound up that was as a result of the horrible treatment they received while in prison. In fact, most of them turn out to be pretty nice people once you get to know them.
There were a lot of really great themes running throughout this novel. The first one might possibly have been accidental. A lot of the problems that Ty and Gemma encountered could have been avoided if the Sea Guard had simply been more honest with them. So it kind of seemed like the book was emphasizing the importance of being honest and not keeping secrets. Of course, had the Sea Guard followed that moral then we potentially would have had no plot. There’s also a bit of a minor theme about not judging a book by its cover going on.
The other major moral…well, why don’t I tell you about when it really clicked for me. There’s a scene where Ty and Gemma discover that the Surfs are competing in gladiator competitions against crocodiles to secure food for their townships. The villain running the event sneers that nobody forced the Surfs to compete. However, Ty quickly points out that the Surfs’ circumstances force them to compete. That scene really resonated with me because of the way that it can be applied to those in poverty and other such situations in our world. It especially hit home because I close friend of mine found herself in a very similar situation not long ago.
There are other details I could go into, but I already covered them in my review of Dark Life. Therefore, I don’t think it’s worth repeating here. I can, however, say that Rip Tide really adds to the worldbuilding that Dark Life started. Kat Falls has hinted that we might get a third installment in the Dark Life series at some point, but for now she’s focusing on other projects.
It’s also a really good story, so if you enjoyed Dark Life pick up a copy of Rip Tide.