Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

This book is set in the year 2140 when the "fountain of youth" has been discovered. A new drug exsists called Longevity that stops aging and allows people to live forever. The only problem with this is that people don't die and the world has become overpopulated. Drastic measures have since been taken, meaning that anyone who takes the drug isn't allowed to have children. People who chose not to take Longevity, or Opt Out, are allowed only one child. Any other children are considered Surplus and sent to live in a Surplus Hall where they are forced to make up for their parent's sins and become Valuable Assets or servants. One such Surplus is Anna who goes about her day being the best Surplus possible so that she'll be released into servitude and earn her keep. She "Knows her Place," at least until Peter shows up. Peter was found late in life and doesn't take to the whole concept of being a Surplus. He tries to convince Anna that her parents are good people and they love her. He tells her that he was caught on purpose so that he could find her and help her escape from Grange Hall and the evil Mrs. Pincent. Soon Anna starts to trust Peter and sees the value in what he has to say. Before long she's looking forward to being on the Outside and known as Anna Covey rather than Surplus Anna.

This book started out slow. Part of the problem was that being a fictional future meant a lot of background needed to be covered. That slowed the story. True the background information was filtered in throughout the story to keep it going, but it still caused the story to crawl. There was also all the time needed for Peter to convince Anna that he had her best interests in hand. Once you hit about page 90 the story picks up pace. It really gets exciting around the escape plan and the ending...whoa. That was honestly exciting. I'm not a big Science Fiction/Fantasy/Future fan so maybe that held me back in the beginning. As soon as you get past all that stuff, though, the escape/survival aspect of the story could very easily have happened at any time period so I wasn't hung up over the sci-fi part. There were also some major twists come the end of the novel and an aspect of the Declaration that completely changes how things work. The ending was worth the whole book. This book also gets you thinking about what the future has in store for us. People are living longer than before with the stronger health care that it might be only a matter of years before something like Longevity is found. Already the world is becoming overpopulated. Will it turn into this future scenario where the number of children allowed is limited and those who exceed the limit are either killed or shipped off to some boarding house where they're treated like slaves? Who honestly knows what's to come.

The book takes a little while to get into, but the ending is well worth the wait. It's exciting with a great twist. People who don't like futuristic fiction but enjoy an escape/survival story will like this novel.

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