The Declaration
Gemma Malley
301 pages; published 2007

… journals and writing were forbidden at Grange Hall. Surpluses were not there to read and write; they were there to learn and work, Mrs Pincent told them regularly. She said that things would be much easier if they didn’t have to teach them to read and write in the first place, because reading and writing were a dangerous business; they made you think, and Surpluses who thought too much were useless and difficult. (16)

Science has made the leap to curing heart disease, it has cured aids, it has cured cancer. And now it has cured death. With the invention of a new drug called ‘Longevity’ people can literally life forever.

With such drastic advancements, however, come equally drastic restrictions. With no people leaving the planet, there is no room for any new ones and so the Declaration is formed: a legal document that outlaws the birth of any child from parents taking Longevity. Any such child is an illegal “surplus”, a drain on the planets resources, thieving of a life they were not allotted.

Anna is one such surplus. A prefect at Grange Hall, part orphanage-part drilling facility, Anna is everything a surplus should be: she works hard, accepts any and all punishment (no matter how harsh), hates her criminal parents, and desires above all else to be a Valuable Asset. All she wants to do is prove useful, to remove some small degree of the shame and sin her parents had lumped her with. She “Knows Her Place.”

When the Catchers apprehend Peter, a sixteen year old surplus, and deliver him to Grange Hall, Anna’s orderly life meets an unexpected turn. Illegals aren’t normally caught so late in life and Peter has known too much of freedom to give it up so willingly.

But there are other things Peter knows, too. Like that Anna’s parents never wanted to give her up. That her name isn’t “Surplus Anna” but Anna Covey. And, most dangerous of all, that there’s a way to escape from Grange Hall…

The Declaration, Malley’s first novel (her second, The Resistance, a sequel to Declaration was published in September) was an intriguing read, questioning life and who has the right to it. Anna’s voice, so heavily indoctrinated in the dogma of this dystopian society, so believing of her own worthlessness was painfully touching in parts. An interesting exploration of a world in which the rights to a child, not to mention of the child, are virtually non-existent. Definitely recommended. 4.5/5

Purchase The Declaration here.

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