The Declaration

The Declaration by Gemma Malley.

I was attracted to this novel for teenagers when browsing the shelves for a new author for my kids. I love young adult/teenage fiction and at my son’s age would have devoured this book just as I did yesterday while getting my hair done.

It’s set in the future – 2140. Longevity drugs have been discovered and people don’t die anymore. The world is a very different place. Crime has dropped. Life is very conservative. Decisions take a long time to make because everyone has so much time. Because no one dies the world soon became overcrowded and so countries banded together and signed a declaration that while people took the drugs they couldn’t have kids.

So there are very few young people around. And while the longevity drugs keep you youthful – it can’t stop the effects of gravity and so the undergarments people wear are more like scaffolding… (come back for my next post – more on this).

But “mistakes” are still made. And there are some people who still have kids. These children are called surpluses and are “caught” and sent to Surplus Halls where they learn to be servants – while being brainwashed that they have no rights and are a drain on society.

I loved the concept of this book – an extension of our own over-populated world – energy poor with people living longer. In a way it reminded me a little of Children of Men by PD James – what happens to a civilisation when there are no children?

The story itself revolves around Anna – a surplus – and how her world gets turned upside down when she meets Peter, who brings her news of the world outside the Surplus Hall.

This is Gemma Malley’s first young adult novel. She paints an interesting world and I think the series (I presume it will become one) will develop.

If your kids liked John Marsden’s Tomorrow series – I think they will enjoy this book. What? They haven’t read the Tomorrow series…?

Guardian review
Bookwyrm Chrysalis Review
Gemma interview

And the best thing is that I’ve learned a new word. How did I get to this age without knowing what a dystopian novel is? I have certainly read a lot of them – in fact they are one of my favourite genres!

A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia,[1] kakotopia or anti-utopia) is a fictional society that is the antithesis of utopia. A dystopic society is characterised by negative traits the author chooses to illustrate, such as poverty, dictatorship, violence, and/or pollution. [Wikipedia]

Gemma makes a good point in her list of favourite dystopian novels for young adults – they can be true stories. The Diary of Anna Frank for example…