The Declaration PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 March 2009 15:25

Gemma Malley

  Anna is fourteen years old and a ‘surplus’ in the year 2140. Longevity drugs have enabled people to defer old age and death indefinitely but as a consequence it is forbidden to have children. For those that break this rule the penalties are severe and their children are taken to Surplus Halls by the much feared “Catchers”. Anna hates her parents for being so irresponsible and believes herself to be worthless, a drain on the world’s resources which need to be preserved for ‘legals’. The only role for a surplus is to serve the legals as house slaves and at Grange Hall they learn the necessary skills of laundry, cooking and subservience. Anna accepts the cruel injustice of life at Grange Hall with unquestioning obedience until one day a new arrival, Peter, turns up and challenges everything she thought she knew.

  Gemma Malley has created a bleak and dystopian future in The Declaration.  Grange Hall and it’s vile House Matron, Mrs Pincent, are creations worthy of Dickens but the themes of this book are both timeless and contemporary.  A society which chooses to ignore human rights, the use of torture and issues of slavery are all covered here but in an accessible and engaging way. The book also raises issues about the demonization of young people in our society and forces us to consider questions of the shifting demographics within an aging population. One minor criticism is that, other than a couple of references to energy shortages and climate change, 2140 doesn’t seem that different to 2009, this seems odd if, for example, you consider the contrast between modern day life and life in the late 19th century. This may, of course, be intentional on the author’s part, with one result of longevity being no youth and no new ideas leading to an increasingly stale society.

  This is a disturbing novel with a shocking ending and will stay with you long after you close the book. I imagine most readers will be keen to see what happens next in the sequel “The Resistance”.


Guest Reviewer:

Charlotte Revely
Programme Director
National School of Government



Last Updated ( Friday, 06 March 2009 18:44 )
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