Saturday, 14 March 2009

Book review - The Declaration by Gemma Malley

In a future where people can live forever by taking longevity drugs, they have strict laws. If no-one dies and more children are born, the world would quickly become overpopulated and resources would run out. The solution seems simple – having children is illegal. Any children who are found are ‘surpluses’ and are taken away.
Anna is a surplus and has lived at Grange Hall since she was two and a half, since the Catchers found her. She obeys and believes the rules, but that doesn’t stop her from keeping a secret diary. And when a boy is brought in from the outside, she is intrigued despite herself. He leads her to question the rules, the fairness of the world. But life is going to get difficult for both of them. Someone knows that Peter is causing trouble and their lives might be in danger.

The Declaration was an interesting book. To teach children from a young age that they don’t deserve to exist, that they have to work off their debt of being born and that they don’t have the right to appreciate beautiful nature (like snow) inevitably results in a group of children who struggle among each other to achieve some sort of power. But even Anna, the most loyal surplus, begins to slowly question her life once Peter arrives and tells her new things about outside. This brings hope to the story that no matter how indoctrinated, people are always capable of adapting and changing their beliefs, of deciding things for themselves.

I kept expecting this book to be more complicated than it was. I thought that Peter had probably run away to rescue Anna without anyone knowing, which made more sense to me than this adoptive parents ever letting him go. After a while, I learned to sit back and enjoy the simplicity. The plot is simple because the ideas and issues are anything but.

The main characters were likable and even those doing terrible things could be understood and empathised with. The other characters seemed underdeveloped; all of the surpluses were the same. This made for a small cast of characters I was interested in and made the story seem a bit slow. The ending by no means solves all of the problems with the world although it resolves Anna and Peter’s storyline, which is both annoying and realistic. I was glad to discover that there will be a sequel as I think that Anna and Peter have more to say and do. The Declaration was a thought-provoking, interesting read.


  1. I really want to read this. It almost sounds like Margaret Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children series for an older age group!

  2. Nice review, H. I agree that Anna and Peter have a lot more to do... I'm going to buy the sequel when it's out in paperback.

  3. great review-this looks like the kind of book i'd like...
    and haha!:) my mom is a mad woman. She's insane! taking my books is her fave method of punishment because she knows i'll do it if its books:)

  4. I would have also liked to see a bit more character development. This wasn't my favorite dystopia, but I'm still going to read the sequel.

  5. Stealing books is such a devious yet clever punishment!

    Lenore, I thought they had depth as characters, they were just boring. I care enough about what they do next to get the sequel though.

  6. Great review! I really enjoyed The Declaration - more for the ideas than for the story itself - but was a bit underwhelmed by the sequel...

  7. Well, maybe they weren't boring, but we just didn't see it because their exciting parts weren't developed enough? ;)

  8. Yeah, ok, boring seems a little harsh. I just get the impression that if I was a a party with Peter or Anna, neither would have naything to say. At all.

    Chris, you're right, the ideas were the best part of The Declaration. Sorry to hear about the sequel.

  9. omg i read the book its soooooooooo totally awesome i ,loved it so much im gonna read the entire sequel hope they make a movie!!! peter is so cute and just by the way he protects anna i can tell he is hot too... aww anna is so lucky man, read the book you will love it guys. oh and great review by the way it was great it helped ppl alot and i hope this comment helps everyone to read it too! :) ;)