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Declaration, The [Paperback]

Gemma Malley
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 12 2008

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. 


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Review

'Poignant, thought-provoking ... Sharing the visionary quality of books such as 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'How I Live Now', The Declaration is one of those rare books that changes the way you see the world.' Publishing News 'Stunning, thought-provoking and a book that genuinely stays with you' The Bookseller (Teenage Highlights) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Gemma Malley studied philosophy at Reading University before working as a journalist. She is also the author of The Resistance. She lives in London, England, with her family. 


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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Aug. 27 2007
Format:Hardcover
C.S. Lewis, author of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, once wrote that there are three ways of writing for children. The first is to cater to what children want (but people seldom know what they want and this usually ends badly), the second develops from a story told to a specific child (Lewis Carrol's THE ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND, for instance), and the third is that it is simply the best art form to convey the story.

Gemma Malley's debut young adult novel, THE DECLARATION, is of the last category.

I am making this point because while THE DECLARATION involves two teenagers, fourteen-year-old Anna and fifteen-year-old Peter, it never feels aimed towards the teen audience Therefore it is categorized as a young adult novel by the age of its narrators rather than its content and this, I believe, will give it an enduring quality. C. S. Lewis wrote, "Where the children's story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that will read the story or reread it at any age."

THE DECLARATION opens in the year 2140, and people have conquered death in the form of Longevity drugs. With limited food and fuel resources, waste has become a serious crime and the worst crime of all is having a child. Anna is one of these children. She is housed at Grange Hall where she and other Surpluses are taught that the most they can ever hope for is a harsh life of servitude to make amends for their existence.

Anna is well on her way to becoming a Valuable Asset when Peter arrives at Grange Hall. He challenges everything she has learned by arguing that people who take Longevity are the real criminals and perversions of nature, not the young. He also claims that he knows her parents and that they want her back.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Special. A Retro Dystopia. July 10 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
"She opened the book and began to read. As she worked her way through the first few pages, her eyes widened with indignation. But she couldn't read it all now."

Well, here's another book that was recommended to me that really ended up sucking. I really expected this book to be good--especially because it's a dystopia science-fiction romance. It definitely sounded like my type of book that I could've end up loving.

It's the future, and in 2140 in a post-apocalyptic world, Anna realizes that she shouldn't be alive. Where she lives in Grange Hall, all of the kids are like her, and if she escapes, she will be put down like animals in the pound. Anna has to work for the rest of her life to pay debt to Mother Nature (what the heck) and when Peter, who is just like her, comes into Grange Hall, he has a lot to say about the outside world, and Anna wants to get out to meet her parents.

I understand that this was published a long time ago. (7 years is a long time when talking about ideas of books revolving.) But the idea wasn't anything special. In fact, I kind of thought it to be immature and boring. The whole book practically was.

In the beginning of the book and story, I was bored. I was beginning to get DNF thoughts into my head, but I kept on going because I trust recommendations and I didn't want to hate this book. Through the middle, it was great. And then it went totally downhill to the end. The ending sucked and the beginning sucked. Now that's kind of rude to do to us readers.

The story wasn't anything special. To classify the whole book itself, I'd say that it's just an under-classified dystopia sci-fi romance. That's all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting YA dystopian fiction Sept. 23 2011
By Jessica Strider TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Pros: thought provoking, fascinating premise, well executed, everyone has plausible motivations for their actions

Cons: ending a little too pat, subject matter's dark for younger teens

For Parents: no swearing, no sexual content, depictions of child abuse (beatings, brainwashing), threats of violence, murder, suicide

Surplus Anna lives in Grange Hall, training to be a Valuable Asset. Her parents ignored the Declaration in order to have her, and it's her duty to repay the world for their selfishness by becoming a servant of Legals. She'll be sixteen soon and her time at Grange Hall is ending.

She's a good Surplus and Knows Her Place. The coming of a new boy, her age, much older than Surpluses are usually found, turns her life upside-down. He claims to know her parents. He claims to know a way to escape Grange Hall. He calls her Anne Covey.

Like the protagonist in 1984, Anne's first act of defiance regarding her life is to start a diary. Her infractions mount quickly.

The premise that in the future humans would learn how to prolong life - to live forever - is interesting, especially given that this book takes it to the next level: with no one dying, there's no room for kids. We're never completely told what the actual Declaration says, which would normally annoy me, but here worked to add tension and horror, at each new revelation. I also liked how Malley gave periodic insights into how the world of the future worked, especially the idea that people, knowing they'd have to deal with climate problems rather than their descendants, finally took steps towards curbing them.

Everyone has a plausible reason for why they act the way they do, including Mrs.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  81 reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Oct. 1 2007
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set, once wrote that there are three ways of writing for children. The first is to cater to what children want (but people seldom know what they want and this usually ends badly), the second develops from a story told to a specific child (Lewis Carrol's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Signet Classics), for instance), and the third is that it is simply the best art form to convey the story.

Gemma Malley's debut young adult novel, THE DECLARATION, is of the last category.

I am making this point because while THE DECLARATION involves two teenagers, fourteen-year-old Anna and fifteen-year-old Peter, it never feels aimed towards the teen audience Therefore it is categorized as a young adult novel by the age of its narrators rather than its content and this, I believe, will give it an enduring quality. C. S. Lewis wrote, "Where the children's story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that will read the story or reread it at any age."

THE DECLARATION opens in the year 2140, and people have conquered death in the form of Longevity drugs. With limited food and fuel resources, waste has become a serious crime and the worst crime of all is having a child. Anna is one of these children. She is housed at Grange Hall where she and other Surpluses are taught that the most they can ever hope for is a harsh life of servitude to make amends for their existence.

Anna is well on her way to becoming a Valuable Asset when Peter arrives at Grange Hall. He challenges everything she has learned by arguing that people who take Longevity are the real criminals and perversions of nature, not the young. He also claims that he knows her parents and that they want her back. Peter is strange and new, but is he enough to make her risk everything to escape with him?

Unlike some novels that use characters, plot, and setting as a vehicle to drive home a message, Gemma Malley never lets the moral and ethical questions she raises detract from the actual story. The characters are well drawn and identifiable, and the language is simple and unpretentious. THE DECLARATION is not without flaws, especially the failure to explain or integrate Mrs. Pincent's involvement with the black market product Longevity+ into a major plotline, but this lends mystery and excitement for a sequel.

Even though it contains a handful of science fiction and young adult hallmarks, such as a utopia/dystopia setting, wonder drugs, and finding and defining oneself, it cannot be dismissed as merely a youthful 1984 knockoff. It is mostly a book about people, fear, and loss. Themes that are, if not always, exquisitely accessible in this age.

Five Stars and a Gold Award.

Reviewed by: Natalie Tsang
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Societal Examination-Courtesy Bookwyrm Chrysalis Oct. 10 2007
By Cassandra Richoux - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What if there was a drug that allowed you to be immortal? Would you take it, even if it meant you would not be allowed to have children? Would you opt out, even if that put you in the tiny minority? How would society deal? How would they treat those children who are still born to parents that are immortal? How would a society of adults over the age of 40 react to youngsters? How would they justify living forever?

Surplus Anna lives in the Surplus Hall, the "home" for those that Mother Nature doesn't want. Those children who are born outside of The Declaration. Created by selfish Legal parents, who are now in prison for their crimes. But Anna is a Valuable Asset and therefore might make something of herself someday, as a good servant in a good household.

That is, until Peter enters her life and challenges everything that she has known to be true. He tells her that her parents really did love her and wanted her. That they sent him to find her. That she's not unwanted and that they aren't the surplus population, that instead it is the adults who have outlived their welcome on the planet.

The Declaration was a stunning book that I just couldn't put down. I was never quite sure how it was going to end, yet when I got to the ending, it was exactly how it should have been. I enjoy societal challenges and questions, so I found this book to be a great exercise in what ifs. How would a society truly react to immortality? It would be tough, there would have to be population control and energy control, and I thought Malley did a great job of bringing up and answering these questions.

I was left with some questions by the end of the book. I wasn't quite sure how long people had been able to be immortal for and why they had to make the decision at the age of 16. Part of the problem, of course, is that the narrating character isn't privy to this knowledge and it didn't really bother me as I read. Malley did address why they didn't just put in birth control drugs with the longevity drug, but I also wondered why they didn't sterilize people who signed The Declaration. My personal theory is that, while they may call these children Surpluses, they also need them for the slave labor they provide. When people live forever, doing menial tasks becomes even less appealing.

Overall, this book is a great discussion starter, the kind of book that you might be forced to read for school, but actually enjoy. If I had kids I would probably put this on their required reading list, just because it challenges you to think about life in a new way. The question of immortality is a hard question. I really want to have kids one day, I love working with kids and enjoy the challenge of shaping young minds. Still, the idea of death terrifies me, and I think if I could still have one child, this would be an easy decision. But to never have a child and instead live forever? That's not a question I can come up with an easy answer to. And in the book, it's a question that people are asked at the age of 16 - that's when they have to decide if they are in or out. Which doesn't exactly make sense though, since the history in the book seems to say that society realized very quickly that even one child was too many. Maybe it refers to the people who were children when the drug first entered mainstream usage.

A great aspect of the immortality drug was that people may stay alive, but they don't stay young exactly - their skin still sags and plastic surgery is still a necessity. Instead, the organs seem to stay young, but the outer shell is aging. Also, Malley addressed nicely how afraid of death immortality has made people. One character helps out Anna with her eventual escape, but immediately flips when the Catchers (people who bring in the Surplus children) threaten her with death. The idea of death becomes even scarier when you no longer think that it will happen one day.

Back to the story, though. Anna is an interesting character and you see the world through her changing eyes. She starts out basically a brainwashed slave. Through Peter's interactions, though, she makes her first friend, falls in love for the first time, and experiences other firsts, some as simple as having her mother hug her for the first time (well, that she remembers). Anna is a good character to see this world through and is a great medium for Malley to tell the story.

I do wonder if the story is really over though, and I hope Malley will revisit this world. It felt like Anna's tale could be considered over, but there is obviously a lot of change that will be coming to this world in the near future. There were other story threads left unfinished and I'm curious to know will happen in the near future, as the world seems to be on the edge of revolution.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but I didn't love it July 12 2011
By C. Klapper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This one started out great for me. Interesting premise and a character I wanted to get to know. But I felt like I couldn't really get into this one as much as I would have liked. Many of the characters seemed sort of flat, and I felt like the romance that developed between the two main characters wasn't realistic. It's still a decent read, but not as engrossing as I expected. I'm not sure if I'll read the next book in the series or not.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Declaring a draw Oct. 27 2011
By K. Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This triology, set in England, looks at how the world could react to a drug that allows 'legals' to live forever if they agree not to have any children (in order to preserve the current way of life/balance of mother nature in terms of using the resources available. There's only so much electricity, oil, etc., to go around).

While this story clips along at a decent pace, the characters are rather flat and while the world is interesting, there's some huge flaws that kept me from enjoying this book.

The story is set in 2140. That's about 130 years from now and somehow the creation of longevity drugs has completely erased the world's moral code. Surplus children (those who's parents decided to have children despite saying they wouldn't) are rounded up and taken from their parents (even children who were born to parents who 'opted out' of the agreement and aren't taking longevity drugs can be snatched with no penalty to the catchers) and deposited in 'halls' where they are brainwashed, beaten, downtrodden, starved, used for stem cells and sometimes killed. And this is OK to most members of the public (frequently, 'legal' people say surpluses should be put down, like animals). This is all done because Surpluses 'don't deserve to live/have good food/hot water/electricty/see the sky' because mother nature doesn't want them. Eventually, those Surpluses who are trained and downtrodden enough are given to legal people to be servents.

History has shown us that humans are very capable of doing terrible, evil things to other humans...but I guess I had hoped that society would have progressed enough that most people would be outraged at anyone being treated like this (especially children).

But the main issue with this book is that characters and events change on a dime. Surplus Anna has never known a kind word or touch in her life yet she is perfectly willing to curl up with Peter the first chance she gets. Likewise (SPOILER) Peter declares his love for Anna despite only having a few conversations with her/spending very little time together. While I could accept the way Anna's feelings progressed toward Peter, Peter's were too sudden to be realistic.

Also SPOILER: Anna has been brainwashed into believing her parents are evil because they broke the declaration and had her. She says, many times, that she hates them in the beginning of the book. Yet the first time she sees them, she falls into her mother's arms and sobs in happiness. I'm not an expert in brainwashing, but somehow this reaction seemed a little far-fetched.

Mrs. Sharp is told that she will be tortured/eventually killed and her husband will suffer if she doesn't tell the catchers everything she knows. She tells them and they just walk away and leave her be. She suffers NO reprocussions for what she has done (despite the fact that she has apparently broken many laws). It makes no sense.

I was also at a loss to understand society's reaction (SPOILER) to the escape of two surpluses...it seemed very overblown, but because this is a triology, I expect this issue will be dealt with further in other books.

All in all, it's not a terrible story. The world is interesting and the head of the hall has a very interesting (but a little too neatly ended) story that actually surprised me (not by what happened but by how it happened). But the writing didn't challenge me much and the plot problems convinced me that I don't want to continue with this series.

There are many better dystopian books out there...this one just missed the mark for me.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Angieville: THE DECLARATION Nov. 5 2008
By Angela Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Set in the year 2140 when the world population subsists primarily on the drug Longevity, which holds aging at bay, this dystopian novel seemed just what the doctor ordered for a particularly stubborn reading slump. Couples are only allowed one child and any they have illegally after that are known as Surpluses. Surpluses are taken away from their parents and raised in a facility such as Grange Hall where our protagonist Surplus Anna resides. They are intended to learn how to be useful to society by serving legal humans. That or end up in a work camp or, even more likely, dead. I liked that Anna wasn't rebellious from the start. That she had been so thoroughly indoctrinated she had to be kicked and beaten into believing in something more. It made her more interesting than I originally anticipated. However. From that point on, the storyline got so predictable it was difficult to stick with it. Right up to the melodramatic ending scene which had me holding the book at arm's length in disbelief. Really? I asked it. I mean, really? I wanted to like THE DECLARATION. I wanted to like Anna and Peter and their shadowy resistance-fighting parents. But I found myself agreeing with Diane Samuels' Guardian review. The execution just didn't live up to the promise. No matter how much I wanted it to.
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