* Prices may differ from that shown
The year is 2140. Sickness, old age and death have been solved, thanks to the longevity drug. You''d think that everyone would be happy now the goals of the world have finally been achieved, but they''re not. Due to the never-ageing society, they are now too many people in the world, leaving the Authorities with only one option. The Declaration. If you want to receive Longevity drugs, you must sign The Declaration. Once signed you are under Law not to have children. If you decide to Opt Out, you may have one child and not receive the Longevity drugs. ''A life for a life''. Some people though, break the law. They have ''illegal'' children, called Surpluses. Anna is one of those children. She now spends her days slaving away at Grange Hall, a facility full of boys and girls who will never get the opportunity to enjoy life. They will be trained to spend the rest of their lives slaving away for their Legal Masters and brought up to believe that they must atone for their very existence. One day, a boy called Peter arrives at Grange Hall. He is there for one purpose only, to rescue Anna. This dystopian novel is endlessly thought-provoking, and is the perfect debut from Gemma Maley. I have nothing but praise for this book, the main characters are well written and there are plenty of ''unseen'' twists. I did think the ending was rushed, as if she was dying to get on with the second book in the series, The Resistance but I didn''t mind. This is one of those books which in time, will become a classic. It appeals to all ages, and has a fantastic story. What more do you want?
This is a review of the 2007 book 'The Declaration' by Gemma Malley. I decided I wanted to read this book following some excellent reviews on here. I managed to find a hardback on ebay for just 49p which arrived in brilliant condition and I couldn't wait to get started on it. Fortunately, it is what I would class 'an easy reader' as it is young adult fiction and the words were spaced nicely on the page so it didn't take me long to tear through it in a couple of days (following a book I'd been reading for ten weeks!). With this book, I did something I've never really done before and removed the dust jacket to reveal a beautiful soft pink hard back book with a black butterfly on the cover. I read the book without the dust jacket and found it strangely nice to do so!
A bit about
In The Declaration, the main character is a 14 year old girl called Anna who communicates with the reader through a journal (the clue is in the italic script). Early on she confesses that she shouldn't be writing a journal as it is forbidden in the place she lives. She is in a children's home being trained to become a housekeeper for a 'legal'. She will serve for the rest of her life as she is tagged with the name of 'surplus'.
Anna was born illegally, and was taken from her parents who are not allowed to have children as they have signed the declaration and take longevity drugs so they can live forever. Anyone who has signed the declaration is not allowed children because there are too many people on the planet (taking the drugs) and not enough dying to make room for new people to be born. The rules are simple: a life for a life and if you are not prepared to give up your life or you 'opt out' then you must live childless. Those children born illegally are taken away and brought up to be 'surplus' and live as slaves to make themselves useful. They are not allowed any privileges and must live frugally and eat little and use no resources.
Towards the end of Anna's training in the home, a new boy arrives called Peter. He is not brainwashed by the system and seems to be always trying to get Anna's attention for which she could get in trouble. Her status as prefect was hard gotten and she is determined to make the house mother, Mrs Pincent proud of her. Peter has different ideas though and tries to convince Anna of the life outside the home and a world where she doesn't have to be a slave. Anna continues to write her journal despite the trouble she would be in if she was ever caught doing so.
I love a good dystopian novel and sometimes the young adult fiction covers it a lot better than the adult ones. I enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to getting hold of books two and three (The Resistance and The Legacy). The text was plain and simple and easy to follow with a few clues up front about what might happen later in the book.
Amazon sell this book in paperback for £5.24 (same price for the other books in the series).
I found Anna to be a likable character and I wanted her to survive in this book. Her future in the home and as a slave housekeeper seemed to be too sad but once you got your head around the longevity drug the rest of the book was quite believable and could really be true in a future which conquered the effects of aging. For science fiction this book made great mainstream reading and is one I am happy to recommend.
The Declaration is a Dystopian novel set in the future after an epidemic has wiped out the world as we know it. Humans can take Longevity drugs for a longer life expectancy but in return they must sign the Declaration. The Declaration would see adults not be allowed to have children, to ensure that the costs to the Government is controlled as adults live longer, the need to have children to repopulate is no longer an issue. Those wishing to have children may do so but they forfeit any Longevity drugs opening them up to illnesses and disease. There are however many many adults across the world who sign the Declaration but have children anyway and risk those children being taken away from them permanently and branded 'Surpluses'.
The book, partly in diary form, follows the life of Surplus Anna who came to live in one of the holding stations in the UK when she was just two years old. Anna is working as hard as she can to prove that she can be a Useful Surplus. Useful Surpluses work as household helpers to Legals, members of the outside community who have obeyed the Declaration and have every right to be alive. Anna knows her place though and lives and works in the most efficient way possible to ensure her time on this Earth causes the minimum impact and disruption that it can to others. She resents her parents for ignoring the Declaration and doesn't wish to be back with them. Even if she would wish to be back with them, they are being punished in prison for disobeying the Declaration.
The book is, in some ways very difficult to read in that children are literally hated and they lead miserable and minimal lives with no happiness or anything to look forward to. The holding stations are basically prisons, and even the windows are covered. They do not see daylight nor do they have visitors or any form of contact with anyone but fellow surpluses. Even that is forbidden and Grange House where Surplus Anna lives sees much of the children look after themselves, in a dog eat dog way. Surplus Anna knows her place and works as hard as she can to avoid beatings or a stint in solitary, that is until Peter arrives. Peter changes everything.
This book was fantastic, I finished it this morning and was momentarily gutted until I realised this book is actually part of a trilogy! Yey! I have downloaded the next one and can't wait to get started on it tonight! Easy to read, yet written in a way that grabs you. The first half of the book sets the scene, and as I mentioned can be quite difficult to read. How children can be thought of in this way is devastating. After Peters arrival the pace quickens and you are left literally stumbling over the pages in an effort to absorb the words and immerse yourself in the story. I found Anna a little difficult to warm to in the beginning however she is so institutionalised that she has become what the Government wants her to become, surplus to requirements and a burden on everyone. Her realisation of this makes her numb to everything going on around her, but she does get nicer so stick with it!!
I've really got into Dystopian books recently after initially starting with The Hunger Games, and I think that although the books are obviously set in the future, the way the stories are written that everything is as we know it is the same except for one key thing (in this dystopian book, it's that people can live forever because of a daily intake of a drug). Because its set in the future yet they aren't wizzing around in space ships or anything that wildly unbelievable, that the book is really easy to absorb yourself into as you can really go with it and think actually this could happen 'one day'. It captured my attention and most importantly, it kept it.
A must read.
About the book
The Declaration is the first book in the trilogy of the same name by Gemma Malley. This edition of the book was published by Bloomsbury on 8th November and it is 295 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copt for review.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Anna Covey is a 'Surplus'. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination.
Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna's life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy?
What I thought
My boyfriend has the old hardback editions of this trilogy but recently, they have been repackaged with new covers so I jumped at the chance to review all three books. I hadn't read them yet and I thought it would be nice to have my own copy of them, which are so different to the hardbacks.
Recently I have been back in the mood for dystopian books so The Declaration was a great choice for me to read. It also sounded extremely different to any others I had previously read so I was excited about this one. I loved the initial idea of a world where no more children were allowed to be born unless it was under specific rules. I can't imagine a world where no one grows old and there are no new people growing up all of the time.
I didn't think I was going to but I liked main character Anna. She's a girl living in a Surplus Hall, a place where the illegal kids go to in order to learn their 'proper' place in society. To begin with, I thought Anna was an idiot for not having a mind of her own but then I slowly realised that she had been brought up this way so didn't really have any other choice. Living here is the only thing that she has ever known and it has been drilled into her that she is a waste and shouldn't be alive. Although Anna is one for following the rules, she does break some of them on the sly which was something I did like about her to begin with.
As the story gets going, and a strange boy is brought to the Surplus Hall, Anna really comes into her own. The boy helps her to realise that the world outside is not all that she has been told it is and it makes her question her life and what she is doing. I really enjoyed watching Anna and Peter get to know each other and for her to slowly begin to befriend and trust him, even though she knows it is 'wrong'. Peter is very interesting due to where he says he comes from. He comes from a life completely opposite from what Anna has been brought up in so the contrast between the two characters was really good!
For the most part, I found the plot to be very interesting and different. The explanations about why the world has particular rules and laws was definitely the most interesting aspect of the book. The ideas behind it all were viable and also very creepy. The Declaration made me wonder whether or not the world could ever actually get to the point where it becomes so overpopulated that this kind of thing could ever happen. You hear on the news and television programs of families having a lot of children and I guess if everyone did this then there would be massive population problems eventually, especially with life expectancy ages a lot higher than they used to be.
The Declaration, while with a dark and dingy setting, is exciting and thrilling. Gemma Malley has created a great new dystopian world.
In the year 2140, it is illegal to be young.Children are all but extinct.The world is a better place.Longevity drugs are a fountain of youth. Sign the Declaration, agree not to have children and you too can live forever. Refuse, and you will live as an outcast. For the children born outside the law, it only gets worse - Surplus status.Not everyone thinks Longevity is a good thing, but you better be clear what side you're on. . . Surplus Anna is about to find out what happens when you can't decide if you should cheat the law or cheat death.
Dystopia has become a very hot trend in the YA market at the moment, one that I have been hugely enjoying. The Declaration really first caught my attention when I found out that it was based in the UK, England. I don't think I've read any other dystopian that's been set here in the UK, the majority you never seem to find out exactly where they are set, but I always get the feeling the majority are based in America. Even thou this is a very bleak outlook of the future of Britain and a future that I hope never happens, it is one world that is worryingly recognisable in many ways!
When I started reading this I really couldn't put it down. The Declaration isn't a completely original concept, but it has been one of the best Dystopian YA novels that I have read to date and the idea just seemed to work and didn't feel forced or completely baseless in reality. Unlike some other Dystopian YA novels out there Gemma Malley has put a lot of thought into creating a world that reads scarily possible, a world that has repeated past historical mistakes by creating a sub-class of people. Where even more worryingly the general public bury their heads and refuse to see the truth in how their world really works, as long as the masses are comfortable life carries on as usual.
One of the few negative points of this book was that Anna, the main character was a pretty bland and mostly forgettable character. However, whereas this would be a huge point for me in some books, it almost seems to work for The Declaration. Surplus Anna has been trained from a young age to be always in the shadows, never seen as she performs her chores and never out spoken. She only really begins to discover who she is towards the end of the book and I don't really want to say much more for fear of giving away any spoilers. I do think that in the next book Anna is going to be a much stronger character and we will get to know who she is rather than just seeing the meek girl that stands in the background and accepts her place in her world.
This novel wasn't perfect, there were a few info dumps and a couple of chapters that didn't flow as well as the others and a few predictable plot twists, but overall I really enjoyed The Declaration and it makes for a great start to a very promising series. I would definitely recommend this book, it is a quick and easy book to read that really adds to the Dystopian genre. I'm looking forward to picking up the next book in the series - The Resistance.
Five out of five stars.
Genre - YA, dystopian
Published by Bloomsbury (Sept 2007)
Paperback - 304 pages (£6.99)
The Declaration series (which is all now available in paperback to buy) :
1. The Declaration
2. The Resistance
3. The Legacy
Having read favourable reviews of Gemma Malley's The Declaration, I was keen to give it a go - when I spotted it in Amazon's Kindle book sale last week for only £1.08, I decided now was the time...
The Declaration is set in the near future, 100 or so years from now, when drugs called Longevity have been invented to stop aging. Now everyone lives forever, there is no space for new life - so people have to sign the Declaration to agree to have no children, unless they Opt Out which means they do not get the Longevity drugs, and so will die. However children are born, and they are called Surpluses - they are sent to training halls, where they learn to be Useful so they can make up for their criminal parents. Surpluses have no rights, and are not allowed to question the system or express opinions.
Anna is one of these Surpluses. At fourteen, she is classed as Pending - meaning she will soon be off to work for Legal people. She is a Prefect at Grange Hall where she lives, and has been well taught about her place in the world. She does not question the system. Then Peter arrives at Grange Hall, saying he knows her parents and that she can have a life Outside...
This is a longer synopsis than I would usually include, but that is because it is hard to sum The Declaration up in less - you need to understand a little of the world in the future in which it is set. It takes some time to build a picture of this world as you are reading the novel, as information is only given out in small amounts. Enough is given at a time so that you know what is going on, but you know that there is more to understand.
The story is compelling, and it soon draws you in. Part of this is down to always wanting to know about this strange world that Malley has created for our future, and how the laws work. Simply learning about Anna's life is interesting enough to start with, even though not a lot of excitement happens for some time, after Peter arrives at Grange Hall.
Anna is a likeable character, although sometimes rather weak. I liked that she was a good girl and obeyed all the rules - I wouldn't have liked to read about her being regularly beaten for insubordination. It also would have made Peter's arrival less interesting, as if Anna was already acting out the conclusion would have been reached much quicker as he wouldn't have struggled to convince her that they could have a better life. However sometimes her "goodness" can seem a bit dull and weak, as can her complete lack of understanding of the outside world and how much danger they would be in there.
The subject matter of this book is one which can really make you think - what happens if the world becomes truly overpopulated? What if these Longevity drugs existed? Interestingly, although life expectancy and overpopulation is all sewn up, we are given small amounts of information which make it clear that other problems haven't been solved - energy, climate change and global warming. Despite the gravity of the subjects which Malley deals with, she covers them in a very readable and easy-to-understand fashion, yet never treating them too lightly that you don't stop and think about them, and all the what ifs.
Following a lot of excitement, the ending of the novel is very well done and ties everything up nicely. It reads like the ending of a standalone novel, however The Declaration is actually the first in a trilogy. While there are still questions that need answering, I'm not sure if the next novels will live up to The Declaration, which is very well told and very well ended.
The Declaration is classed as a young adult book, and while it is certainly suitable for readers of that age, it is also suitable for adult readers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found it thought-provoking, despite passing the "young adult" category quite some time ago.
The year is 2140 and by now everyone is used to the fact they'll live forever. Since it's creation 100 years previously, wonder drug Longevity has eradicated all diseases including old age. But in a world where no-one dies, there's no room for anyone new. And so everyone must sign a Declaration promising they won't create new life or forfeit their right to Longevity altogether.
16 year old Anna is Surplus, born to parents who dared to break the Declaration. Torn away at a young age, she has grown up in the Surplus Hall along with many other illegal children. Treat with contempt and cruelty, the surpluses are trained to become Valuable Assets, slaves to legal people. Anna is accepting of her fate until one night when a new surplus arrives, forcing her to question her world for the first time and throwing her life into chaos.
I've wanted to read this series for ages. The premise is brilliant, a not so distant future where the cure to illness, disease and old age has been found and people live forever but children are forbidden. Finally getting around to it in time for the release of the final book of the trilogy, I flew through all three books within a couple of days.
I adored every page of this book and read it in one go. The future Gemma Malley creates is shocking. Anna's story, along with the other surpluses is heart breaking; the idea of assigning such labels to children is horrifying. Yet there's also something very believable and familiar about the story. The Surplus Hall, while set 100 years in the future, brought to my mind the workhouses of the past in many ways. Life is hard and children are stripped of anything that makes them human. Mrs Pincent, the cruel house matron, wouldn't be out of place in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. Longevity, the wonder drug that means everyone lives forever, never aging and never getting ill is quite frankly horrifying. Yet again there is something believable about the situation and the problems created by it both on the population and the world's resources. It wasn't at all difficult to imagine life with longevity and that made the story very scary indeed.
Gemma Malley's writing is very readable, I found myself completely caught up and involved in the story. The characters are vivid and well developed. I particularly liked Anna, who is quietly strong and resilient even when she doesn't know it. I was thoroughly behind her throughout the book. Peter intrigued me immediately with his intensity and passion for his cause. My only complaint while reading this book was that we didn't really get much of an insight into the world outside the Surplus Hall and I had a lot of questions relating to the beginnings of Longevity and how it was used. However I started the next book in the series immediately after finishing and all my questions are addressed then. Overall I though The Declaration was a fantastic first book. It's extremely readable, gripping, emotional and thought provoking and is one I will think about for a long time to come.
The Declaration by Gemma Malley..............
The year is 2140 and the world is a much different place thanks to the invention of a super drug called "Longevity". We meet Surplus Anna, aged 15, who resides in Grange Hall accommodation for illegals which is much like a boarding school but where the pupils are taught that their existence is a crime against Mother Nature. Because of "Longevity" giving humans the power to live forever the government decided people would have to sign something called "The Declaration" which would mean giving up the right to have children and in return they would be able have the super drug. There is a "opt out clause" for people not wishing to take the drug themselves and this would mean that they could have one child.
Surplus Anna's parents however decided that they wanted to take the "Longevity" drug and have a child and thus Anna was born illegally. The "Catchers" who are a government run organisation that help to round up illegals and take them to homes just like Grange Hall found when Anna was only 2 years old and she has been at Grange Hall ever since. She has learnt many things there and is set to become a "Valuable Asset" as when she has her 16th Birthday she will be sent out to work as a slave for a legal.
Anna has minimal memories of her parents and the teachers at Grange Hall have made her believe that they were irresponsible and didn't care much for her so Anna sets her sights at becoming the best Surplus she can be and she is doing a very good job of it until the arrival of Peter.
Peter is the same age as Anna and was brought to Grange Hall by the Catchers. However when Peter reveals the Anna that he knows her parents well and that they are desperate to be reunited with her. Peter tells Anna that he was caught intentionally with the view to escaping Grange Hall with her and returning her to her parents and becoming part of the underground movement. Anna's perception of Grange Hall and the entire world begins to change as she becomes closer to Peter and her life is turned upside down.
Well what a great book. I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did because usually this is not the sort of book that I would choose to read. However having found it in Poundland I thought for the price I might as well give it a good go and I am really glad I did.
The whole idea of the book works really well and has been thought out cleverly with all areas seemingly covered which makes the futuristic book take on a true to life feel. The idea that a drug has been made that gives everlasting life is indeed something you could imagine and therefore so too is the idea that if people lived forever then we couldn't all go on having children so the idea of singing a declaration of some sort would also be apt.
The plot of the book has been structured well and really did keep me interested, so much so that I could hardly put the book down. It was easy to read and although a rather different and deep subject it was written in a light easy seeming not to delve too deep into endless possibilities. I like the way in which it seems that although the world has progressed so much with the invention of such greatness in the Longevity drug that still it has reverted back to olden times with the use of the slave trade by using the Surpluses.
The book felt like it would be more suited to a teenager really as the flow of the book was very easy and didn't really test me too much and although I would recommend it to anyone I could see myself being a good few years younger and appreciating it a lot more. I think it is a shame that this wasn't aimed at a more mature audience and maybe then the book could have delved deeper into the whole theme which was a really good and strong one.
However it really was a good book and I have now begun to read the follow on book "The Resistance" which was also for sale in Poundland. This follows both Peter and Anna and has the same feel to it and I am also enjoying this one.
I think this book is really good and although perhaps could have been a lot deeper and explored even more possibilities I did enjoy it and feel it is worthy of a 4 out of 5 star rating and a high recommendation.
Published by Bloomsbury Books
I paid £1 for the book but the RRP of it is £10.99p
ISBN: 978 074 758 7750
Most definitely worth a read.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this review.
I do hope that it has been of some help/interest to you.