Monday, 15 June 2009
The Declaration by Gemma Malley
Anna keeps a secret diary in a pink journal. She hides it away every night because she doesn't want to get into trouble for breaking the rules. Life at Grange Hall is governed by rules, rules that have to be learnt in order to make up for breaking the biggest rule of all.
Anna knows she has to be grateful for her place at Grange Hall because her parents were irresponsible when they had her. They broke the rule about not having children and now Anna must repay society for their selfish act. She must learn to be a Valuable Asset.
Then one day Peter arrives and starts to tell Anna shocking things - about her parents, and the Declaration, and life outside Grange Hall. Soon Anna is wondering about everything she has learnt to believe.
I picked this up second-hand, mainly because of the eye-catching cover, and I am so glad I did. It's a fascinating and gripping novel set in a dystopian world, and I couldn't put it down. The sequel is already on my tbr list.
The Declaration is set in 2140. Death and old age have been conquered by Longevity drugs - but the world cannot support an ever-growing population, so children are now illegal unless the parents agree to die. In some countries, new babies are put to death. In more 'civilised' Britain, they are raised in Halls to a life of harsh slavery to atone for their existance.
The main character, Anna, has been raised in one such Hall. She is a prefect there, and well on her way to becoming a Valuable Asset. She genuinely believes that she is worth nothing, and hates her parents for giving birth to her. Despite this, she has a spark of rebelliousness, keeping a forbidden journal. When Peter arrives, he forces her to start thinking for herself. Her transformation is fascinating, but also real, and she remains deeply affected by her traumatic childhood.
I wasn't sure about the big twist, but that's the only real negative. I also loved the questions this book raised. Who has more right to life: adults prolonging their lives past natural limits, or children who, by law, should never have been born? And would you have children if it meant giving up your own life?