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 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 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.
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.