The Declaration

 
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Overall rating 
 
2.3
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Meh

I have to say I enjoyed this, but it's quite young and i could see the end too easily. I read it in one evening though and the plot does keep you reading, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to other young adult book lovers

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Unique and thrilling

The Declaration by Gemma Malley - what a book! Another futuristic novel it follows Surplus Anna, Anna Covey to her family (though she refuses to believe in them), who has been brought up in the oppressive Grange Hall and taught that she is a waste of the Earth's resources and it is because of her parent's selfishness that she walks this earth. Surpluses are taught that they must make up for their parent's sins and Know Their Place..... However there is a new Surplus coming to Grange Hill, called Peter, and he says he isn't a Surplus, that there shouldn't be Surpluses - they have as much right to be there as anyone else...... Anna knows he's trouble, knows listening to him is dangerous, encourages him, will only lead to punishment for disobeying the rules... yet she does... he's mysterious, alluring, and more than that... he claims to know he she is....

Gemma Malley's story is very complex, yeah the plots simple - a drug has been created that means you can live for ever - no-one needs to die. But these drugs are only giving to the Legals and the Legals can't have children. They drain resources the Earth no longer has, so children are illegal, any born are Surpluses - they are collected, stolen from their parents, and sent to Surplus Halls where they are taught to be good citizens - but she manages to throw in so many curveballs that you'll have difficulties catching them all. There are a good deal of twists that threw me as I read it. And get this, I hated it to begin with - I found the first few chapters quite slow, a bit of a slog and I wasn't really interested. But when I realised it wasn't a fluffy read and I would have to pay attention to detail I started to revel in it. It was nice to read a book that had depths and a big background. If you liked Hunger Games this should be right up your street... These books scare me a little as the idea of governments or cities having so much power over people's life I find rather terrifying... I hope to not see Earth if it ever becomes like this!

Anna
Anna is an interesting character to watch develop as to begin with she starts of as a stoic, really brainwashed, girl who Knows Her Place and wishes to remedy her parents sins. However once she meets Peter you can witness her change to a brave, smart girl whose prepared to break the rules and begin to attempt to change the world and the corrupt societies of that day. When you begin to understand the extent of the brainwashing Anna has gone through and what they teach the Surpluses - that they are a waste and unwanted - you actually start to feel quite sick!

Peter
Peter is unbelievable... He has surrendered himself to The Surplus Halls just to find Anna, though I can't say why or I'll ruin the story!, and he puts up with the various tortures designed to break his spirit, still believing that parents do want their kids, that the Legals are in the wrong. Once you've realised the extent of the stuff Peter has to put up with you can really admire his commitment, belief, and passion for his cause. He is so sweet and patient with Anna as well!

Peter and Anna are the main characters in this book and they work and gel well together. Malley has created a partnership between the two that holds the plot up and you can become attached to them as they battle to save themselves against this crazy mad and cruel world.

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Overall rating 
 
2.7
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Kind of Meh

This book is like a combination of Unwind, The Postmortal and Among the Hidden, although the last one was the only one actually published when The Declaration came out in 2007. Set in 2140, most people live forever, because of the miracle drug longevity. Unfortunately, this drug does not halt the aging process of the skin, meaning that wrinkles and sagging are still a serious problem. Basically, in this future, plastic surgery is de rigeur. Of course, there's the mysterious new Longevity+ which apparently keeps the skin young too.

Like in Among the Hidden, people are forbidden from having kids, although here most people aren't even allowed one, whereas in Among the Hidden families could have two. The governments feared over population with everyone living indefinitely. Thus, only if the parents opt out of taking the drug will they be allowed to reproduce.

What I wonder though is why the rules are quite that strict. Here's the thing. I agree that over-population is a definite concern, but it's not like most people are actually going to live forever. At one point, Malley mentions that crime has essentially been eradicated, because, apparently, it's not worthwhile if you're going to live forever. Really, that seems like bullshit to me. There would still be murder and there would still be accidents. People would be dying off, obviously at a very reduced rate, but there's still no need to institute a "life for a life" policy.

I still haven't really warmed up to Anna, although she definitely improved as the book moved along. At the outset, she was insufferable, with her complete belief in her own worthlessness and her desire to be the best slave ever. Ugh! Plus, as the prefect at Grange Hall, she helped make the already awful lives of other Surpluses even worse. Not exactly a heroine.

Still, I am definitely going to read the next book, as I am curious to find out what will happen next.

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Long life invented drug!!!

Anna is a surplus, she shouldn't existed, but she does. In a world where most people are over the age of hundred, and children are considered surplus, Anna must slave away forever at a jail like home because of her parents breaking the law, having children when your on 'Longevity'. Anna was going perfectly and was destined to become a brilliant surplus and to work at someone's home instead of Grange Hall. But when Peter arrives, Anna starts to rebel against the law and changes her destiny

The idea of having a drug that was meant to cure cancer, becoming the cure to age. I thought that was an astonishing idea. I also loved how that having children when you are taking the drug was banned, I thought that was very clever way to stop overpopulation. This book cleverly fights rights and freedom for children who are destined to slave for the rest of their lives because of their parents misdeeds. Anna is an example. I liked how Peter came in and changed Anna's view on how she was worth nothing but everything, the future, her future.

I loved Peter. His personality was powerful and beautiful. His views on life were creative but that made him get in trouble with the teachers quite a bit. He was written quite well and the description of him was wonderfully detailed, even on the blurb! His ideas on his freedom and all the surpluses were easy to follow and made people want to believe him.

Anna is quite a different story. She was brought up to follow orders so she didn't have much will power (though she did have enough to write a journal even when she wasn't meant to). If Peter didn't come along, she wouldn't of gone much further in rebelling and earning her freedom. She would of been a slave for her whole life if Peter didn't come along. Together these two characters are a powerful duo and you wouldn't want to mess with them once they believed it was right.

All in all, this book is mind-blowing. A moving novel set in our possible future. One thing is for sure though, I would never like to live forever in a body that is falling apart. This is Casog, opting out!

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The Declaration

The Declaration is a book set in the future where a drug has been invented called "Longevity" that gives people immortality. People can Opt Out (they die) if they want to have a child, because otherwise the world would be overloaded with people. A life for a life. That's how it works. Children are looked down upon because they are new life, whether they are Legal or not. But there are some people who have signed the Declaration and still have a child. All these children are called Surpluses. And Anna is one. The Surpluses learn to hate their parents for bringing them into the world. And Anna hates her parents too. She learns to be a good Surplus, and is constantly trying to make up for the "sin" her parents have done by giving birth to her. She is the Senior Prefect, the perfect picture of a perfect Surplus. That is, until Peter Tomlison comes and opens Anna's eyes to what is really happening. He tells her that her parents are alive and are trying to find her, and this is what makes Anna suddenly want more than being a good Surplus. Anna and Peter become friends (and perhaps even more than that) and good, Senior Prefect Anna Surplus, suddenly becomes daring, brave Anna. They go on daring escapes, trying to escape the authorities. Who can Anna trust, and will she find her parents?

When I started reading The Declaration, I was astonished at the idea of people managing to create a drug that cured cancer and granted long life. But I suppose that really is not that surprising. We have come so far in these recent years, who knows how far we can go in the next 1000 years? But even though that idea was nice, I hated Longevty from the start. If we were to live forever, life would get unbearably boring and we wouldn't look forward to anything, because we would know that it was going to happen sooner or later. And a life without children? Forget it. If given the choice, I would Opt Out. No competition.

The Declaration is an engaging book that cleverly reveals to us that living forever is not as cool as everyone thinks it is, and provides an insight on a world without children. Living forever would be unbearably boring. The world would be full of old people, doing whatever old people do. Just old people in a disguise.

Living forever is not a good thing. Opt Out.

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Overall rating 
 
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Opting Out

Reader reviewed by Ollie

Everybody is always saying how cool it would be to live forever, but we never think about what living forever in this flawed world would entail.
 Gemma Malley offers a fresh point of view about this in the Declaration, where everlasting life means no new lives.  People who agree to the process of living forever must sign a contract saying that they will not have anymore children. Its a life for a life.
 And all the kids that are sent away as surplus. They are brainwashed to believe they are a burden on the world. Anna is one of them. She tries her best to be dutiful in order to pay off her debt. But of course a boy shows up and turns her world upsidedown. Peter tries to get her to believe that all she's known.
 Overall the writng was incredible and its something that i would reccomend to anyone

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A future with few children

Reader reviewed by Lenore

The Declaration is set in a world where a longevity drug has been developed that essentially lets people live forever. Sounds great at first - until you realize that if no one dies and people keep having children, population growth explodes and there just arent enough resources to go around. Thats why everyone who takes longevity drugs must sign a declaration saying that they will not have children.

15 year old Anna is an illegal and has lived in a surplus hall most of her life. Shes been told her parents broke the law by having her and indoctrinated by the cruel Mrs. Pincent to believe that her only chance to make things right is to be obedient and learn to become a valuable asset (otherwise known as a slave!). Her beliefs are shaken up when a boy her age who has lived on the outside all his life in hiding arrives and tells her shocking things about her parents and the declaration.

As in most dystopian fiction, the main conflict is man vs society but we also have a well rounded villainess in Mrs. Pincent. In fact, Mrs. Pincent is actually a vastly more interesting character than Anna who comes off as fairly bland (granted it is due to her very limited life experience). The beginning of the book is slow with big lumps of exposition and lots of scenes showing just how very inhumane it is to tell children they are worthless.

Things pick up when Anna decides its time to develop a personality and scenes with Mrs. Sharpe, a well drawn yet minor character are sharp and insightful. Even though the big twist is pretty obvious, its still satisfying.

I had really high expectations for this book so I was a bit let down that it didnt completely live up to them. Still, I would recommend it to my fellow dystopian fiction fans.

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