Alexandra's Reviews > The Declaration

The Declaration by Gemma Malley
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Dec 16, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: school, read-in-2012, re-read, female-author-2014, read-in-2014, female-author-2012
Read on January 08, 2012

I read this for school, because I am teaching it to my Yr8 class this year. It's fun to be teaching an SF text!

The premise is that a longevity drug has been created, which is great... but of course if people live an indefinite amount of time and still have kids, there's going to be a serious resource problem pretty quickly. Hence the Declaration: if you take the drug, you don't have kids. Ever. There's the option to Opt Out of the longevity treatment, and therefore have the opportunity to have kids, but Malley imagines very few people being willing to do so. The protagonist of the book is Anna, and she's a Surplus: a child born to parents who signed the Declaration and then broke the rules. For that, they get sent to prison, and she gets taken to Grange Hall - effectively an orphanage where she gets trained to be Valuable. That is, to be useful to Legals by being their servant. And she's taught that her parents were evil for having her, and that she is an offence against Nature for taking resources that rightfully belong to Legal people. Partly this teaching is the system, and partly it's the matron of Grange Hall, Mrs Pincent, who is as twisted and bitter a headmistress as you could imagine.

This falls into the YA dystopia camp, I think, but in a very different way from Pure or The Hunger Games. In theory at least, everyone BUT the Surpluses should be having a delightful time, living forever. We only get a little glimpse into non-Surplus life, and... it seems much like today, even though it's 100+ years in the future. Not much happier, and not really much more advanced. To me that does make it something of a dystopia simply by virtue of being stagnant. There's also a hint that the government might be quite an interfering body, with some fairly sinister powers. The life of a Surplus, which the reader gets to know very well, is definitely dystopian; a Surplus may not own anything, has only one name, has no choice about where they end up, and are frankly lucky not to have been drowned at birth - a fate apparently meted out to their equivalents outside of Britain.

Anna is an enjoyable enough character. She got a little wearing after a while because of her passivity, although I totally bought this in the context of the story. Of course, there is a change, brought by a new arrival at Grange Hall, Peter, who stirs things up for Anna especially; and then I found that she changed too quickly, with little investigation into the reasoning behind her changed attitude.

Overall, this is a fast read, and generally an enjoyable one. In terms of teaching it provides all sorts of possibilities - longevity, the role of parents, what we value and why, how people affect us, etc etc. I think I'll be able to teach it for a few years without too much boredom, because the kids will keep having different reactions to it.

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Reading Progress

01/08/2012 page 160
53.0% "Quite intriguing, fairly fast-paced. Changes happen a little bit too quickly with the main character, but overall enjoyable so far."
01/30/2014 marked as: currently-reading
01/31/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Katharine (Ventureadlaxre) Just heard you speak of this novel on the GS episode, and was then telling a friend about it, who asked (at the same time as a couple sign up to take the declaration drugs) 'Why can't they just sterilise folks at the same time?'

Is that covered in the novel? (I'll still probably read the novel even if it isn't! I'm just impatient to know how instead of reading :3

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