Review Blog

Jan 19 2008

The declaration by Gemma Malley

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2007.
(Age 12+) A highly original and chilling dystopian future is depicted in The Declaration. Longevity drugs have ensured that nobody needs to die, but as resources run out, people have signed the Declaration, promising not have children. The only children born are to those people who opt out of immortality and if found are seized by the authorities. Anna is one of these children who are known as 'Surpluses'. She lives a bitter life in an Institution where she is trained to be a house maid for the Legals. When a boy arrives from the outside, she hears disturbing information about her parents and is forced to make some difficult decisions.

The ideal of staying young is currently strong in our society with the media and industry pushing cosmetic surgery, drugs and potions to stave off old age. Malley has taken this further and shown the reader a world that so worships the idea of staying young that its people are prepared to give up having children. Anna's life in a stark home is brilliantly depicted with images of a ruthless matron, bullying of young children, semi-starvation and ruthless brainwashing staying with the reader.

This is a gripping tale that carried me along to finish the book in one sitting. Anna's development from a brain-washed girl to one who takes risks, is well handled. The conclusion is rather sudden but it does appear that there will be a sequel to satisfy readers.

Younger readers who liked the Uglies series or How I live now by Meg Rosoff will enjoy this and more mature readers could be guided to The handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwood or The Children of Men by P.D. James after reading this novel.
Pat Pledger

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