Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Is eternal life worth the price?
The Declaration - Gemma Malley
Member Name: eilidhcatriona
The Declaration - Gemma Malley
Advantages: Good story, thought-provoking subject matter
Disadvantages: A lot of information to take in, lead character can be a bit weak
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.
Summary: A really good read