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The Declaration

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Reviewed by Natalie Tsang for TeensReadToo.com

C.S. Lewis, author of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, once wrote that there are three ways of writing for children. The first is to cater to what children want (but people seldom know what they want and this usually ends badly), the second develops from a story told to a spec...
C.S. Lewis, author of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, once wrote that there are three ways of writing for children. The first is to cater to what children want (but people seldom know what they want and this usually ends badly), the second develops from a story told to a specific child (Lewis Carrol's THE ADVENTURES OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND, for instance), and the third is that it is simply the best art form to convey the story.

Gemma Malley's debut young adult novel, THE DECLARATION, is of the last category.

I am making this point because while THE DECLARATION involves two teenagers, fourteen-year-old Anna and fifteen-year-old Peter, it never feels aimed towards the teen audience Therefore it is categorized as a young adult novel by the age of its narrators rather than its content and this, I believe, will give it an enduring quality. C. S. Lewis wrote, "Where the children's story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that will read the story or reread it at any age."

THE DECLARATION opens in the year 2140, and people have conquered death in the form of Longevity drugs. With limited food and fuel resources, waste has become a serious crime and the worst crime of all is having a child. Anna is one of these children. She is housed at Grange Hall where she and other Surpluses are taught that the most they can ever hope for is a harsh life of servitude to make amends for their existence.

Anna is well on her way to becoming a Valuable Asset when Peter arrives at Grange Hall. He challenges everything she has learned by arguing that people who take Longevity are the real criminals and perversions of nature, not the young. He also claims that he knows her parents and that they want her back. Peter is strange and new, but is he enough to make her risk everything to escape with him?

Unlike some novels that use characters, plot, and setting as a vehicle to drive home a message, Gemma Malley never lets the moral and ethical questions she raises detract from the actual story. The characters are well drawn and identifiable, and the language is simple and unpretentious. THE DECLARATION is not without flaws, especially the failure to explain or integrate Mrs. Pincent's involvement with the black market product Longevity+ into a major plotline, but this lends mystery and excitement for a sequel.

Even though it contains a handful of science fiction and young adult hallmarks, such as a utopia/dystopia setting, wonder drugs, and finding and defining oneself, it cannot be dismissed as merely a youthful 1984 knockoff. It is mostly a book about people, fear, and loss. Themes that are, if not always, exquisitely accessible in this age.

posted by TeensReadToo on October 27, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

The Review of "The Declaration". by, Gemma Malley

It's year 2140, Longevity have sustained a population that never dies of old age, or get sick either. Which means, Anna isn't suppose to be here. In 2140 no one should have children is this society that can't sustain any more growth. "The Declaration" Is a commitment in...
It's year 2140, Longevity have sustained a population that never dies of old age, or get sick either. Which means, Anna isn't suppose to be here. In 2140 no one should have children is this society that can't sustain any more growth. "The Declaration" Is a commitment in which you agree to sign it and not have children in order to live forever. Refuse, you live as in outcast.
For surplus Anna, and many of the other surpluses at Grange Hall, it only gets worse. These kids (boys and girls) are living outside the law. Grange Hall is a place where kids of all ages have to live, work, and learn to maybe become a "Valuable Asset". Anna, is 15, she is working to be a Valuable Asset. So maybe her existence on this earth will be repaid. But, soon will all change... When Peter, I new boy comes to Grange Hall, it makes Anna world spin upside down. Peter brings knowledge about the outside world. He is very fond of Anna, and begs her to escape with her. Anna is not sure what to believe or what is coming in her fate.

The book "The Declaration" is a superior book for the teenager audience. I gave "The Declaration" three stars, because, on the up side of this book, it was interesting, intellectual, and just fun to read! The down side of this book that it was almost predictable, and... It was not the best book in the world! I would recommend this book to a younger crowd. This book has some action, drama, and a little romance!

"For centuries people have yearned to find the fountain of youth. . . The Declaration paints an unsettling picture of what might happen if we ever do" -The Wall Street Journal

posted by charlotteriley13 on January 2, 2011

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    The Review of "The Declaration". by, Gemma Malley

    It's year 2140, Longevity have sustained a population that never dies of old age, or get sick either. Which means, Anna isn't suppose to be here. In 2140 no one should have children is this society that can't sustain any more growth. "The Declaration" Is a commitment in which you agree to sign it and not have children in order to live forever. Refuse, you live as in outcast.
    For surplus Anna, and many of the other surpluses at Grange Hall, it only gets worse. These kids (boys and girls) are living outside the law. Grange Hall is a place where kids of all ages have to live, work, and learn to maybe become a "Valuable Asset". Anna, is 15, she is working to be a Valuable Asset. So maybe her existence on this earth will be repaid. But, soon will all change... When Peter, I new boy comes to Grange Hall, it makes Anna world spin upside down. Peter brings knowledge about the outside world. He is very fond of Anna, and begs her to escape with her. Anna is not sure what to believe or what is coming in her fate.

    The book "The Declaration" is a superior book for the teenager audience. I gave "The Declaration" three stars, because, on the up side of this book, it was interesting, intellectual, and just fun to read! The down side of this book that it was almost predictable, and... It was not the best book in the world! I would recommend this book to a younger crowd. This book has some action, drama, and a little romance!

    "For centuries people have yearned to find the fountain of youth. . . The Declaration paints an unsettling picture of what might happen if we ever do" -The Wall Street Journal

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Good but rushed. Review contains spoilers.

    It was a good book. I liked the concept.
    But the problem i had was that this book could have been so much more than it was. There was just a bit too much focus on how horrible surplus children were, and the change in person was confusing sometimes (anna would be present one moment and then we'd be hearing someone elses point of view with no real transition).
    The author didnt take enough time to build a proper romance or even friendship between peter and anna. It was just like, oh hey im here and i know your parents. Run away with me? There was no...mystery.
    Then when she met her parents, it didnt seem...enough, ya know? They were happy to see her, but not happy enough.
    Then everything just escalated really fast and it was rushed. Like the whole peter and his grandfather thing? The author just sort of brush by that. I was thinking there HAD to be more, but nope.
    All in all, it was a good book, but it was missing something. It kept me interested enough to finish, but not enough that i would buy the sequel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2008

    Crumbles into mediocrity

    This was fair at the beginning, and then it crumbled into mediocrity. The escape from Grange Hall was too lengthy and it took place way too late in the book, I thought. The clumsy deux ex machina was visible a mile away, and the writer left a lot of questions unanswered about Sheila and Peter. Also, I don't think the numbers add up. If Anna was the first surplus to be brought to Grange Hall, how does that make sense, since longevity drugs have been around for about 100 years? The Mrs. Sharp incident seemed a bit contrived as well. Several characters seemed placed to meet a certain need, and then they are clumsily swept aside, never to be mentioned again. Anna's weak spirit really irked me. Peter should have left her in a ditch, since she just keeps trying to get back to Grange Hall she puts it in a heroic light, but it's just cowardice naïveté on her part. I did enjoy the plausible presentation of the society: frightening and conceivable... although, again, I have a hard time believing that every country could make an agreement to throw in their lots with longevity so quickly without first fighting a long and drawn-out war about it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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