book thoughts: The Declaration by Gemma Malley (2007)


Gemma Malley

“If the chance to live forever came with a price, would you opt in or out?”

That’s the tag line on the cover of ‘The Declaration’ by Gemma Malley, a science fiction novel for young adults.  

In the future, Longevity drugs have made it possible for people to live forever. But, the Earth has finally reached a population limit, so no one is allowed to have children unless they opt out of of the “eternal life”.  Of course, there are still people that attempt to have children.  These children are taken away and called “Surpluses”.  They are trained to do the most menial jobs around and told their are worthless, using up resources that only the Legals have a right to.  Anna is a Surplus.  She has accepted that her parents were law breakers, bad people who had no right to create her, and now she must do her best to make up for existing.  Then Peter arrives and claims to know the truth about Anna’s parents…

While it sounds like a solid plot line, I felt the book could have been put together a lot better.  It is told in third-person limited point of view and switches between characters throughout the story.  But I felt we stuck with Anna so long in the beginning that by the time we switched to another character, it was a bit jarring and forced.  Plus, the plot device of Anna’s forbidden journal (Surplus’ are not allowed to own anything) slowed things down a lot because her journal entries were usually just re-tellings of sequences we had just read about a few pages before.  It seems like that should have reworked that because it really slowed down the advancement of the plot.

Do you ever get the feeling that a bunch of authors went to a workshop together and then wrote novels right after that? I really think I might have enjoyed this book a bit more if I wasn’t such a big fan of Scott Westerfeld’s ‘Uglies’, had not just finished (and LOVED) ‘Unwind’ by Neal Schusterman, and had not just read Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ (which I read because Joss Whedon said it inspired ‘Dollhouse’). Because if you put all those books into a blender, you get something not quite unlike ‘Declaration’. Compared to those books, ‘The Declaration’ falls short in style and substance.But what really ruined it for me was the ending. I won’t spoil it but it was pretty lame and I was hoping for so much more. Apparently this is book 1 in a series (wow, let me have a heart attack and die from the not-surprised).  

It was okay, but I don’t think I’ll be rec’ing it to anyone.

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