Dark Life is a young adult novel by Kat Falls, based on an intriguing premise - that global warming has caused the land to shrink, so everywhere above water is packed. Because of this, a group of brave families choose to live underwater, farming the sea...
Now I have to admit here that I have a soft spot for dystopian visions of the future - and this is one of the better ones I've read recently.
Basically, the plot is a western story transposed to the future - there's a group of outlaws, brave pioneers, a useless sheriff, and visitors from outside (or 'topside', as the land is known). It might seem like a stretch to make a sci-fi version of a western, but it's been done before very successfully (Star Trek was pitched as 'wagon train in space'), and it works again here. The descriptions of the undersea world, the differences between topside and underwater life - seen through the eyes of Ty, the first child born under the sea, and Gemma, a runaway topsider searching for her brother, make the dystopian future very real. The world is beautifully imagined - houses that look like jellyfish, and move with the current, bubble fences that keep animals in, the idea of warming the water to allow the farming of tropical fish, and more - a lot of the description makes me wish for a graphic novel version!
Topside is an oppressed place of tiny apartments, children living as 'wards of the commonwealth' in giant homes, no grass, no space. Undersea offers space beyond belief, large homes, community, and friends. However, not all is perfect in the undersea world. Rumours of mysterious 'dark gifts' affecting undersea children scare parents, and then there are the outlaws - once they only attacked government ships, but now they're hitting homesteads.
Into this world comes Gemma, a young runaway from one of the giant childrens homes, trying to find her brother. Information on the situation on the surface is provided through her - and it's not good. All the main characters are very well written - Ty, his sister Zoe and Gemma are all realistic, believable (amd likeable!) characters. The adults are mostly in the background, but still skillfully sketched, and the whole feel is of a really well written, tightly plotted book.
Disney optioned the movie rights before the book was actually published (with Robert Zemeckis rumoured to be directing), and it'll make a great film if the special effects are right (or a really bad one if they're not...). There is also more than enough set up in the book for it to be the first of a series - hopefully that's the idea, as Ty's world is a place well worth exploring!