Over the Christmas period, I downloaded The Declaration by Gemma Malley to my Kindle for the various train journeys I was going to make. A YA novel set in an intriguing political landscape, I couldn't wait to get stuck in!
In the future, old age has been scientifically "cured" by a Longevity drug. For those that choose to take it, eternal youth is theirs along with no cancer, no rheumatism and no other conditions that often come with aging. However, there is a catch: if you choose to take Longevity drugs, you must sign a Declaration that states you will not have children. Any person found to have had a child while taking the drug will have their child taken away as it is a Non-Legal - a "Surplus" - and the parents will be imprisoned, if not killed.
A Surplus is what Anna, our main protagonist, is. Raised in a Surplus House ever since she was removed from her parents at 2 years old, she has known nothing but the fact that she is unwanted in the world, unneeded, a "burden to Mother Nature", and that she might as well make herself Useful by serving Legal people as a housemaid. She must be as good as invisible, she must not use any resources legal people are entitled to (heat, good food, hot water, medication) and above all, she must never think for a second that there is anything more than this life for her.
Anna is a good Surplus, and en route to becoming a Valuable Asset, according to house matron Miss Pincent... that is until Peter, a Surplus who has remained undetected by the Catchers for 16 years, comes to the House. He knows Anna's real name, he tells her stories of the outside world, he tells her that her parents are alive, and that Anna is loved. He also tells her of The Underground - a group who are fighting against idea of The Declaration.
The premise for The Declaration is great. It seems very apt in our current society - where people are living longer thanks to medical advancements, over population is leading to greater poverty, and the human race threatens to destroy many of the world's natural resources. I was looking forward to exploring the political dilemmas the situations in the book present. Unfortunately, I found this intrigue wasn't satisfied within the narrative. The surface of the issues was only slightly scratched in favour of YA romance... but, fair enough, don't buy an apple and expect lemons, right? The world was sufficiently created to carry the characters' motives, however, and I enjoyed the journey they took nonetheless. I just WISHED for a little more detail. A BIT more controversy ;)
Another slight annoyance I found in the book was the constant repetition of phrase. I swear, if I read "Miss Pincent" one more time in the first chapter, I was going to have an aneurism. Still, I got over it. I could see it was a "character voice" thing, it was just bloody annoying. Luckily it wore off as the book progressed!
I would definitely recommend The Declaration to YA fans. It is the first part of a trilogy, and although I don't think I'll venture on the the next installment, it was pretty much everything a YA novel should be - with a major bonus of there being no insta-love (woohoo!) The characters were endearing, the story was well paced and a little bit different, the ending was quite surprising and the book worked well as a standalone. (I like getting closure from each installment of a series!)
If you have read The Declaration, what did you think?
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The Declaration - review
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.