First published by Bloomsbury in 2007 (this edition by Bloomsbury in 2008)
Book #1 in The Declaration series
Description (from Goodreads)
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.
I'd seen this book somewhere a while back and rather liked the sound of it, so I decided to try reading it. When I bought it, I found it at the bargain price of £2.10 on Amazon, a fact that I was very happy about! You can't go wrong for that amount of money, can you?
The Declaration is set in the future, in the year 2140, at a time when it is illegal to be young. Sometime during the previous century, Longevity was invented. Longevity is a drug which halts the ageing process of the human body and thus, enables the taker of the drug to live forever. Because of the fact that people are not dying anymore, there is no room on the planet for new people, which essentially means that the new children that are born are very few (because people choose to sign the Declaration and take the Longevity drugs). The main character, Anna, is a child, but she is known as Surplus Anna; a child that was born to people who took Longevity drugs and still decided to have a child. Children like Anna are hunted down and are ''put away'' in halls, where they train so as to become in some way useful to the Legal people when they leave the halls.
The idea behind the story was very clever. You might think the whole thing sounds quite absurd, but what would you do if you were faced with a similar decision? If you had the opportunity of a much longer life, what would you choose? Would you choose to live ''forever''? Or would you want to give another generation (your children) the chance to live?
Gemma Malley's writing is exceptional, as is her character building. Anna is a lovely character, clearly misguided during the first part of the novel, but she slowly grows into herself and reveals how strong she really is. I will admit to finding her refusal to admit to certain things irritating at first, but then I realised that's it's all part of the ''realisation'' process. Peter was also a great character, who also got irritating at times, especially when he sort-of assumed that he and Anna were destined for each other, even from the time he didn't actually personally know her. But he is so sweet and tries to show that he is fearless, when he really isn't.
One of the things I really liked about this book were the diary entries in the beginning of some of the chapters. These do have some significance - as is explained early on in the story - but for me they serve a different purpose; the one of finding out more about Anna. The diary is her story the way she wants it to be said, portraying her own thoughts and questions and that really helped with her character building. The story itself does get a little slow at times and a little too fast at others, but it is fairly obvious what this story is aiming at. The journey to that ''final destination'', however, is not that clear. There were a few times when things happened or were said and I was left with my mouth wide open (so to speak), because it just came out of nowhere!
The Declaration is a story with a very important message to tell and it one of those that are definitely worth reading. So, read it.
I'm definitely going to be reading the next two books in the series, as soon as I can get my hands on them.
Gemma Malley is a British author of young adult novels. She studied Philosophy at university and after graduating, worked as a journalist. If you would like to find out more about her, you can read a short Q&A session she has on her blog (just click on the Q&A). She has also written:
Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, Dystopia Challenge, 1st In A Series Challenge