On the cover of my paperback edition the Sunday Telegraph is quoted: "One of the best written books of the year". I wholeheartedly disagree.
The story is set in the 22nd century in a world where diseases like Aids and Cancer are cured and where there is a drug that prevents that people die of old age, so with a regular intake of ha drug you can live forever. The downside is of course a massive growth of the population, so birth rates have to be minimized to the extreme. Only parents who "opt out", that means stop taking that drug, are allowed to have a child. Acting against that law will lead to prison for the parents and a life in a so called Surplus hall for the kids, where they are trained to be invisible servants, making life easier for those with a "legal" status.
Heroine of the story is "Surplus Anna", a student, eager not to be any burden to anybody and just be a good surplus. She befriends Peter, the new student, claiming to know her real parents, who she thinks of as selfish people thinking of their own good instead of the good of the country and the world and decided to have a child and hide it.
The premise of the story is fascinating. The question whether you have the right to live forever and deny future generations the right to live is an interesting one.The way Gemma Malley lays out her answer to that question is very straightforward, without giving the reader the chance of a single thought of their own.
The character development is poor. Anna overhears one conversation and from that moment on her whole outlook on life and society is radically changed. She isn't a very likable character to start with and she isn't really improving. The first half of the novel is extremely lame and redundant, towards the end it gets more interesting, but the storyline is very predictable from the very start. The diary entries for example felt unreal, it was so obvious it was just a way of introducing the world the book is set up in to the reader. It didn't feel like something a person would actually write in a diary at all. Anna is apparently 15 years old, but her way of talking and writing feels like a 10-11 year old girl to me.
There are a lot of teen dystopian novels out there and I read quite a few. ALL of them were better than The Declaration in my eyes, I was very disappointed and wouldn't recommend this novel at all.