Anna Covey is a ‘Surplus’. She should not have been born. In a society in which ageing is no longer feared, and death is no longer an inevitability, children are an abomination. Like all Surpluses, Anna is living in a Surplus Hall and learning how to make amends for the selfish act her parents committed in having her. She is quietly accepting of her fate until, one day, a new inmate arrives. Anna’s life is thrown into chaos. But is she brave enough to believe this mysterious boy? This is a tense and utterly compelling story about a society behind a wall, and the way in which two young people seize the chance to break free.
I’ve wanted to read this series for ages. The premise is brilliant, a not so distant future where the cure to illness, disease and old age has been found and people live forever but children are forbidden. Finally getting around to it in time for the release of the final book of the trilogy, I flew through all three books within a couple of days.
The Declaration is the first book in the series and introduces us to Anna and the world where people live forever thanks to a drug called Longevity. One of the downsides of eternal life is over population. If no one dies then there’s no room for anyone else to be born. To solve the problem the Government, or Authorities have created a Declaration making procreation illegal. But there are still children born, children like Anna. The Authorities solution is to deem these children surplus, strip them of any human rights and rip them away from their parents. These children are then housed in a Surplus Hall, beaten, starved and trained to be a Valuable Asset, or in other words, slaves.
I adored every page of this book and read it in one go. The future Gemma Malley creates is shocking. Anna’s story, along with the other surpluses is heart breaking; the idea of assigning such labels to children is horrifying. Yet there’s also something very believable and familiar about the story. The Surplus Hall, while set 100 years in the future, brought to my mind the workhouses of the past in many ways. Life is hard and children are stripped of anything that makes them human. Mrs Pincent, the cruel house matron, wouldn’t be out of place in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Longevity, the wonder drug that means everyone lives forever, never aging and never getting ill is quite frankly horrifying. Yet again there is something believable about the situation and the problems created by it both on the population and the world’s resources. It wasn’t at all difficult to imagine life with longevity and that made the story very scary indeed.
Gemma Malley’s writing is very readable, I found myself completely caught up and involved in the story. The characters are vivid and well developed. I particularly liked Anna, who is quietly strong and resilient even when she doesn’t know it. I was thoroughly behind her throughout the book. Peter intrigued me immediately with his intensity and passion for his cause. My only complaint while reading this book was that we didn’t really get much of an insight into the world outside the Surplus Hall and I had a lot of questions relating to the beginnings of Longevity and how it was used. However I started the next book in the series immediately after finishing and all my questions are addressed then. Overall I though The Declaration was a fantastic first book. It’s extremely readable, gripping, emotional and thought provoking and is one I will think about for a long time to come.
Coming up next: Review of the second book in the series, The Resistance where things get even more interesting!
Read as part of Read-A-Series in September. Click Here to find out more!