Review Blog

Oct 10 2008

The declaration by Gemma Malley

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2008.
300p $17.95
Growing up in Grange Hall, where she has been taught to be subservient, Anna is dismayed when a new boy a little older than herself comes to be trained. She knows her place, keeps her eyes downcast, looks forward to be useful when she leaves, and never, never asks questions.  She is a Surplus, a child born to parents who were not licensed to do so. Those who have taken the Longevity drugs to avoid disease, ageing and so death, were not allowed to have children and those who went against the Declaration, had the children taken and put into care where they were taught to know their place and learn to be useful, servants to those who had signed the Declaration.

It is a world in the future, where anti ageing is taken many steps forward, where the stem cells of the young are harvested to make the Longevity drugs. But this means that the authorities must be alert to overcrowding and so steps are taken to keep this under control.  A dazzling story, one which foresees the outcome of some of the steps being taken today by science, where questions are asked about the logical conclusion about these experiments. All sorts of ideas pop up in this layered story, stem cell research, license to have children, energy use, global warming, corruption and the exploitation by the first world, of the third world.

The new boy challenges Anna in a way that makes her troubled, sensing in him the downfall that may engulf her as well. When he is sent to solitary, Anna overhears the matron's plans for him, and so she escapes with him. There follows a heart stopping escape to London where an underground movement waits. The second book in the series, Resistance can't come soon enough. This is a tale of a nasty future which is almost visible and certainly possible.
Fran Knight

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