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It’s the year 2140 and Longevity drugs have all but eradicated old age. A never-aging society can’t sustain population growth, however...which means Anna should never have been born. Nor should any of the children she lives with at Grange Hall. The facility is full of boys and girls whose parents chose to have kids—called surpluses—despite a law forbidding them from doing so. These children are raised as servants, and brought up to believe they must atone for their very existence. Then one day a boy named Peter appears at the Hall, bringing with him news of the world outside, a place where people are starting to say that Longevity is bad, and that maybe people shouldn’t live forever. Peter begs Anna to escape with him, but Anna’s not sure who to trust: the strange new boy whose version of life sounds like a dangerous fairy tale, or the familiar walls of Grange Hall and the head mistress who has controlled her every waking thought? Chilling, poignant, and endlessly though-provoking, The Declaration is a powerful debut that will have readers agonizing over Anna’s fate until the very last page.
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Amazon Significant Seven, October 2007: I've seen a wave of new young adult novels come across my desk this fall, and among them Gemma Malley's The Declaration has captivated me the most. We meet Malley's heroine, Anna, in a society that's unraveling. One hundred or so years earlier, "Longevity," a new drug granting immortality, took the world by storm, only to lead to an untenable swell in population. Anyone who wants to live forever in this brave new world must agree by law not to have children (thus the eponymous declaration) ... or else. Anna is a "Surplus," a fallout of this decree who ekes out a stark existence (in a neo -Dickensian outpost known as Grange Hall) with the hope of becoming a Valuable Asset to the adults immortal. However, with the arrival of a new Surplus, Peter, who's lived on the Outside his whole life, she discovers a path to the life she might have lived. A world in which children struggle against the adults in charge isn't a new concept, but Malley gives it a provocative twist in a debut that echoes Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley, and--most recently--Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go as it explores what happens when you tangle with reproductive power. --Anne Bartholomew
GEMMA MALLEY studied philosophy at Reading University before working as a journalist. A successful author of women’s fiction, The Declaration is her first book for young readers. She lives in London with her family.
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