Tuesday, 15 January 2013
The Declaration by Gemma Malley
Author: Gemma Malley
Released: October 2nd 2007
Pages: 304 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
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?
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 first got the novel on Christmas Day 2008. How do I know that? My mum loves to write little notes on the front page of any book she gifts to someone. The Declaration was the first dystopian novel I read, and was what initially got me into the genre in the first place. At the age of twelve, this novel had me instantly addicted. So when I got sent the next two books in the trilogy, I decided to reread this and see what I thought of it now.
Based on a future Earth, a drug has been made called Longevity which prolongs the life of humans. As more people started to take this, however, the world became overpopulated and a rule was put into place, so that the only way someone could have legal children was if they opted out of taking the drug - a life for a life. However, some people still go ahead and have children anyway - these children are called Surpluses, and as soon as they are found out, they are captured and brought to Surplus Halls, where they are brought up to serve the Legals as servants. Anna, the main protagonist, is a Surplus.
Firstly, I've always loved how Malley created this dystopian world. Some authors who write for this genre just change small aspects of the current world, usually twisting the government into something corrupt and evil. I prefer it when the author delves deeper into the tale, creating new systems, new words, new ways; I just find it more captivating to read, and find myself rather more intrigued by the book in the first place. I not only liked how she interpreted the future, but I also loved how she revealed this new structure to the readers; how she revealed through Anna and the range of other characters what Surpluses were, where they stood in society, how society was in general. The information wasn't forced all at once onto the reader, and it was explained in such a simple and easy way that it would have been difficult to get confused by this new world. I think I like that in general about Malley's writing - it's very very simple, yet it still captures people's attention and imagination.
I remember that when I first read this, I loved the characters. I thought Anna was fantastic, had a great personality, was very realistic; I thought Peter was fabulous, a definite book crush. But now? Anna, although I enjoyed her point of view, is probably the dullest character you will ever meet. No, seriously. She was very timid and dull and plain and dull and stupid and dull. I didn't grow tired of her, exactly, but that was only down to the fact that there was nothing there to get tired of in the first place. Same goes for Peter, really. There was a bit of improvement with him, but honestly, now that I know there are characters out there like Four from Divergent...well, Peter is just another fish in the sea.
The plot was good. Well, it was good and bad, to be truthful. On one hand, the outline of the plot was well thought-out - it was obvious that Malley knew where she wanted to book to go, and knew what she had to do to get there. But filling in the gaps between those important moments in the novel...it was very bland and thinking back on it, nothing much really happened.
I guess that overall, I'm kind of in shock. Whilst rereading The Declaration, I was remembering why I'd give it five stars. But now that I'm looking back on it...no. Reading it as a sixteen year old, it isn't as hard-hitting or dramatic or as good as I found it back in 2008/2009. But I have to admit that it is a fantastic introduction to the dystopian genre for pre-teens - using that frame of mind, there would be stars all over the place! But as a young adult novel, it just doesn't have the same grasp and appeal that other dystopian novels have, like The Hunger Games or Matched. But it is a good starter novel, that I must give credit for. I can think of no better book to have gotten me into this genre.