The Declaration by Gemma Malley

In the year 2140, it is illegal to be young. Children are all but extinct. The world is a better place. Longevity drugs are a fountain of youth. Sign the Declaration, agree not to have children and you too can live forever. Refuse, and you will live as an outcast. For the children born outside the law, it only gets worse, Surplus status. Not everyone thinks Longevity is a good thing, but you better be clear what side you’re on. . . . 


Surplus Anna is about to find out what happens when you can’t decide if you should cheat the law or cheat death.

In the year 2140, Anna shouldn't exist, but being at Grange Hall has taught her and the other leaching Surpluses to become useful. Anna's parents broke the Declaration, by illegally having a child without opting out of Longevity, citizens can either choose to have a child, or be allowed access to the Renewal drugs that ensure they will live forever, their appearance frozen in time. Children born illegally are often disposed of, but in England, Surplus centres were established to train the children to become useful and not the drain on society that most of the citizens believe that they are. Mrs Pincent is the house matron at Grange Hall, where children from birth to sixteen years of age are kept imprisoned, and trained as slaves to the legal population of the world. It's her duty, and pleasure, to break the spirits of the Surplus children, treating them as harshly as possible. The illegal children deserved to live with the guilt of their parents crime, and if they were going to live, then she would see to it that they were made to work.

In a society where adults live forever, there are no diseases or illness. Cancer, heart disease and AIDS have been eradicated, until scientists discovered a way to halt the aging process. Children are feared by adults, with only Surpluses and a few legal children in existence. When a new Surplus arrives at Grange Hall from the outside, Anna can see the determination and spirit in his eyes. He isn't only untrained, but Peter is a glimpse to the outside world, a world in which Anna knows nothing about. Surpluses are trained not to have independent thoughts, not to read or write and certainly not ask questions, it's simply not polite. Anna wasn't allowed possessions, she didn't deserve to own anything in a world in which she doesn't belong.

Peter brings word from the outside world from Anna's parents. Criminals in which she has been taught to despise, working to becoming the perfect Surplus in order to repair the sin of existence. But when Peter talks of an Underground Movement that is fighting the authorities, challenging the Declaration that citizens of the world should not not live forever, that youth was an asset and life should be about creating, not just preserving. Anna's parents had taken Peter into their home and cared for the adopted boy as their own, but no one could replace Anna, taken from her parents as an infant. Peter knows he needs to escape with Anna,but he never imagined that he would need to convince her to leave.

The revolution is coming, pro life advocates and rallying, and the two will receive help from the most unlikely of sources. For the quiet and obedient Anna and the boy who freed her from her oppressive prison, are they too late to find the parents that Anna never truly had?

The concept is brilliant, the elderly living forever and children are a drain on society, they cannot earn their keep and should be eradicated, when in reality, the roles can be argued that the reverse is true. People now forgo having children, either needing to decide at only sixteen years old whether or not to sign the Declaration. Sign, and you'll live forever, trading that of potential children in the process.

But the execution felt amiss. Anna's character was not only brainwashed, but utterly annoying. She will do anything to please, including berating those younger than her at Grange Hall. Her only rebellious thought is of that of a journal she keeps, hiding it within a nook in a bathroom. When Peter allows his capture to rescue her, he refuses to leave, defending Grange Hall, Mrs Pincent and that she wants nothing to do with her parents who were selfish for bringing her into the world. But when Peter's life is in danger, she then decides to flee, no more questions asked and she's willing to sacrifice her life that she staunchly defended, branding Peter a liar.

Actual young adults will enjoy the storyline, but as an adult, I was craving action and the revolution that it barely touched upon. Anna was just too indecisive, too eager to please and far too accepting of life without questioning, and her about face just left me deflated.

The Declaration
(The Declaration: Book One)
Written By Gemma Malley
Published 02 / 10 / 2007
306 Pages


  1. I have a friend who found this book difficult to get through, and after reading your review I know why! It's too bad this didn't live up to the potential of the premise, it seems like a stronger heroine would have done wonders for the story. Great to read your review!

    1. Hi Charlene and thanks for popping by.

      My thoughts exactly. She was too weak willed and gullible to be remotely likeable. Most of her thoughts were about how to be a good little Surplus, how to be useful and how to repent her parents sins, simply by having her. If a character is eventually going to rebel, you would have thought she'd at least have an independent though or question the Declaration before running off with the first boy that shows an interest.


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