The Declaration
Gemma Malley




Anna hides her secret diary away each night because she doesn't want to get into trouble for breaking the rules. Life in Grange Hall is governed by rules, rules that have to be obeyed in order to make up for breaking the biggest rule of all. Being born.

But when Peter arrives and starts to tell Anna shocking things about the outside world, she learns to question the rules and, with Peter, struggles to escape the past and find a better future.

"A haunting and suspenseful page-turner." Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

"Sharing the visionary quality of books such as The Handmaid's Tale and How I Live Now, this intensely moving debut is one of those rare books that changes the way you see the world." Publishing News
Adéle , from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This book is set in the future, where medicine has become so advanced that people are living forever. There are no children allowed. This story is based around a girl [who] believes her parents are evil for having her; but eventually a boy called Peter persuades her to leave Grange Hall to go to her parents.

 

This was a good book. It had a gripping story plot. It had interesting ideas of what would happen in the future. It also showed children’s reaction to being separated from their parents. I also liked the way part of it was a diary, so I always knew what was going through this girl’s head. Some of the bad points I was able to overlook as I was so excited by the book that I did not notice all of these.

 

However there was little description and of the description that there was, none of it was clear, so most of it was left to the reader. However this isn’t always a bad point and it would have been hard to describe as it was set in the future  

 

This was an amazing book with excitement that lasted for days after I had finished the book. I was amazed at the novelty of the idea as well.

Ami, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

The Declaration is set in the year 2140. It is very different to a story set now. Children who were born were known as ‘Surpluses’ and were illegal. They went to the school Grange Hall that restrained [them and] taught them that they were not ‘Legals’ like their parents and that they meant nothing and their parents didn’t want anything to do with them. The author was very imaginative, making up the idea of ‘Longevity’, a drug that Legals could take curing old age. I could instantly see that ‘Surpluses’ were very unlucky. I thought that this opening was very unusual; it was set in a journal. It was fairly exciting, but more dramatic and slow.

 

The main character was Anna. She was a surplus at Grange Hall and was a ‘Pending’. There were three types of children at Grange Hall, ‘Small’, ‘Middle’ and ‘Pending’. Anna was a Pending (the oldest) and was a Prefect. Anna did not know what the Outside world was like; she was doing horrible chores, and going to classes with all the other surpluses. Miss Pincent, the head teacher, having a bleak and bitter childhood, was impudent and wanted to take out the guilt on surpluses. Anna carried on like this, writing each day in a journal, until a Pending named Peter comes and tells Anna about the Outside world - and that they should escape and that he knows her parents. Anna, being a Prefect, knows that she has to be ‘sensible’ and ‘know her place’. Miss Pincent had also taught all surpluses to hate their parents and know that they mean nothing.  Anna, therefore, ignores Peter and lets him get into trouble. Suddenly all the events fell into place at this point, and I was more enthusiastic to read on. ...

 

The author described [all the characters] in great detail. For some characters, the personality was described at once, and for others it was little by little throughout the story in dialogue. The character that I liked most was Anna, whom the author described carefully; there was a lot of detail about Anna, and she expressed her personality by the things that Anna did, which I thought was very creative. For example, Anna kept a journal, showing she was secretive; or she said that she hated Peter, talking about her parents, showing that she didn’t like people interfering. ...

 

I like the way the ending related to the book’s title. Overall, I thought that The Declaration was an extremely creative book. I would recommend this for anybody to read, especially people who like adventure books. It is very unique compared to other books. I like the idea of it being set in 2140 and I have had a different view to the future - it can be more sinister than we think! After I finished reading the book, I felt as if I had experienced everything inside it and I thought that even though it had a dull start, it really made me enthralled while reading. I would definitely read more books by Gemma Malley. 

Arian, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This story is about a world of the future where longevity drugs have been found so that nobody needs to die. To have children in this new future, the parents need to ‘Opt Out’; if they don’t then their child is taken from them at the age of 16 and trained to serve the ‘legals’. Anna is the main character and she is a ‘surplus’ who abides by all the rules until Peter, a new surplus, arrives and tells her these stories of how they are brainwashing her. He urges her to escape with him. Everything she believes about society and her place in it is about to go through a major reinterpretation.

I enjoyed this book as the plot was very interesting and different as well as being very well structured. There was a bit of romance which also helped, but not enough to take over the plot which I thought was busy enough. Gemma Malley supplies a conclusion that is different to what I thought would happen. I am glad that there is a sequel because I didn’t think that it was the last that we had heard of Anna.

Benjamin, from University College School London

This is a bone-chilling novel with a story which illustrates a bleak vision of the future.

 

The story is told by Anna, a fifteen-year-old girl who in the year 2140 is a resident of Grange Hall, a very strange type of  boarding school where she is being trained for a  very specific purpose but knows little of the sinister world outside.

 

This is a time when a new superdrug has been invented which allows people to live forever. However this has created a enormous problem in that the world’s resources have become insufficient to accommodate an ever-expanding population so that the government has made it unlawful for people to both take the superdrug and have children.  If people want children they must make the decision to ‘opt out’ by the age of 18.  If they fail to opt out and still have children, the children are known as ‘surpluses’ and are taken from their parents to be trained as servants for the ‘Legals’.

 

The institution where Anna lives is such a ‘Surplus Hall’ and when we first meet her she is truly indoctrinated, coming to the end of her training and truly hating her parents for committing the illegal act of bringing her into the world. However she knows nothing about them and things radically change when a young man Peter comes to Grange Hall and reveals that he knows her parents and also her surname. What he tells her changes her life completely and leads to an exciting series of events and ultimately a shocking and emotional conclusion.

 

This take on the future is far more frightening than any supernatural scenario as it can be related instantly by the reader to current issues such as man’s attempts to prolong life through drugs and other means and man’s anxiety to save the environment and retain the natural resources of the planet.

 

Whilst being set in the future, the book also brings to mind classic children’s adventures such as ‘Oliver Twist’ in its description of the Surplus Hall regime and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in its depiction of the ‘Catchers’ who go in search of the surpluses.

 

Accordingly the story is traditional and modern at the same time which gives the book an unusually powerful quality. The story also, whist holding the reader’s attention on every page, stimulates the reader to address serious issues such as the disadvantages of being able to prolong life indefinitely and the terrible prospect of not being able to reproduce.

 

I would recommend this book without reservation. That is demonstrated by the fact that as soon as I had finished it, I abandoned my pile of unread books and went in search of the sequel The Resistance.

Chanell, from Hampstead School London

This book is set around 2140; the government has made a drug called ‘Longevity’ which gives a person who swallows it everlasting life but at a terrible cost. You must sign a Declaration to say you will take the drug and never have children. This story follows a young girl called Anna whose parents did not sign the Declaration and hid her until the ‘catchers’ dragged her away to Grange Hall. This book follows her during her teenage years. There are twists and turns right though this book and the last three chapters are nailbiting.  Would I take an ever-lasting drug after reading this book? ...I don’t think so.

 

I would recommend this book to readers aged 12 and over. I really enjoyed the story and the last three chapters were fantastic.

Chloe, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

The Declaration is based on the consequences of eternal life. It is 2080 and the world’s resources are running out. There are too many people on the earth because illness has been wiped out and no one is dying. The youngest person is 70 and most children are illegal.

 

This book is effective because of its unusual storyline, which has a futuristic theme with an edge of reality. This helps to maintain suspense throughout the book. The Declaration is also written in the third person, which contrasts effectively with the glimpses into the main characters' thoughts in the format of a diary.

 

All this makes it a brilliant and compulsive read that invokes the full range of emotions.

Daniel, from University College School London

It is 2140 and Anna is a ‘surplus’ living in Grange Hall. She obeys all the instructions and commands she is given from the ‘legals’ and most importantly she ‘Knows Her Place.’

 

This book is about Anna; she is a surplus and therefore is taken into a surplus hall. She is lucky to have the luxury of a surplus hall as in some other countries the punishments are much crueler. Anna is a ‘pending’ at Grange Hall and she attends classes to better her household skills and courtesy for when she goes out to work for legal people. Anna is a prefect at the surplus hall and has been ‘indoctrinated’ so well by the house matron and the various other ‘legals’ that she feels she has no place in the world and no rights. Anna does not and cannot question her living conditions as she knows that she, unlike the ‘legals’, will eventually die of disease.

 

Anna’s life to her is completely centred around her finding a good job by taking utmost care during her classes and by managing her dorm to a satisfactory level. This is all going very well until Peter shows up at Grange Hall. Peter is a trouble-maker and keeps pestering Anna with her past; something she knows nothing about. At first Anna is disgusted by Peter’s ridiculous, disorderly behaviour, but she slowly grows to like him. Anna’s trust in Peter is put to the test when Peter reveals his plans and what he knows exactly about Anna. He asks Anna to comply and come face-to-face with her past, the time before she was torn away from her parents and brought to the surplus hall.

 

The story is mainly set in Grange Hall, whose bland, concrete walls are simply all that surpluses deserve. Here there are floors for every surplus category: small, medium and pending. There are dormitories where the surpluses play games where they pretend to be the legal, there is ‘Central Feeding’ where the surpluses are served their broth, full of essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients to keep them healthy. Finally, there is the house matron Mrs. Pincent’s office - the room most feared by all surpluses at Grange Hall.

 

I think it is a perfect book for early teenagers. It has a gripping, page-turning storyline which has elements of a futuristic thriller while also containing hints of a love story. It requires developed empathy skills to try and understand how Anna has been brainwashed and not to class her as an evil person when she acts strangely, because at heart she is a nice person. I would give this book five stars and recommend it to anyone. I think it is even a book that will attract the minds of early teenagers who may not read very often. I found that this book was very difficult to put down, and so found myself reading much more than I am used to!  

Dulcie, from Hampstead School London

Set 132 years in the future, The Declaration is unlike any book I have ever read.

It is the story of Anna, a child who is sent to a school where the children are shut away from the world and forced to believe that they are inferior.  Where you are told every day that you were not meant to be born; however, knowing nothing different, you learn to accept it, and knowing better – you do not answer back.

 

This is because in 2140, new world-changing drugs have been invented.  Drugs that allow the human race to win the battle against ageing – by stopping it completely.  However, in a world where the old want to be young and the young are not supposed to exist, everyone has their secrets…

 

As I read The Declaration, it opened numerous adventurous thoughts and questions into my mind about the future, life further than 2008.  I loved the many amounts of shocking plot twists that appeared out of nowhere, which managed to shine the book under a different light every time.  This just as equally, quite beautifully, presents the debate on the meaning of life.

 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that wants a book that challenges him or her to let their mind run wild with imaginative thoughts the second they put it down.

Eniola, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

A beguiling and captivating tale set in the year 2140, a year of new and exciting technology and enterprise. Since the year 2030 to the present day, longevity drugs had been used throughout the world to cure every disease under the sun, even cancer and aids, and to bring ageing to an end, so therefore people could live for ever and were immortal, but there was a catch - and this is where Anna comes in.

 

Born a ‘surplus’, the outcome of a severe illegal act with dire consequences, Anna was destined to live out the rest of her days at Grange Hall until she become a ‘valuable asset’, well equipped to service a future employer, in six months. "If no one dies and people have more children, there's nowhere for everyone to go."

 

Because of the ever-increasing population due to the use of longevity drugs, with no one dying and new life every day, there was no space for every one, so by 2080 everyone was required to sign the declaration, a new law passed to deal with the problem. "There is an opt-out available to those determined to choose reproduction over renewal: you can embrace mortality and give up the drugs in order to have one child." So if you signed the declaration, you had the right to take longevity drugs and you forfeited the right to have a child; or you 'opt out' of longevity drugs and embrace mortality, don't sign the declaration and you have the right to have one child. One child per 'opt out', "a life for a life" stated the declaration. Any children born to parents who had not chosen to "Opt Out" when they were 16 were immediately illegal and became "Surpluses", and thus was Anna, born illegally and never to forget it, raised to hate her parents and think them criminals, and brought up to believe that she has no right to live and must live out her life repaying mother nature for her parents’ sins, until ... and this is where Peter comes in....

 

Grange Hall, the austere boarding school, was governed by rules that had to be obeyed and that is exactly what Anna believes and does; at the age of 15 Anna is a ‘pending’, pending employment - the oldest set in the range of surpluses, and a prefect - which meant that she got second helpings at supper when there was food left over and an extra blanket that meant the difference between a good night’s sleep and one spent shivering in the cold, and she was set to be a ‘valuable asset’ and in the eyes of the evil Mrs. Pincent, known to them as the house matron, Anna was one of the most reliable. "But when Peter arrives and starts to tell Anna shocking things about the outside world, she learns to question the rules and, with Peter, struggles to escape the past and find a better future."

 

This passage from the blurb sums up exactly what happens to Anna when Peter arrives and stirs up her life. At first Anna was very intolerant of Peter and his behaviour and believed that he thought that he was better than everyone else because he had just come from the ‘outside’ and he was the only ‘pending’ to have ever come as a new arrival at Grange Hall. ...

 

The rules were what drove Anna to convey her thoughts and emotions to her secret journal that was given to her by the flamboyant Mrs. Sharpe whom she had worked for, for a trial period as a housekeeper. When Anna had left Mrs. Sharpe's house she had been given a lovely journal, a small fat book covered in pale pink suede and filled with thick, creamy pages, as a leaving present ... "Surpluses weren't allowed possessions; they had no right to own things in a world that they'd gate crashed" Mrs. Pincent said. And this is why Anna felt so guilty whenever she was writing in the journal ...

 

Peter begins telling Anna news about the outside world and her parents and convinces Anna to escape from Grange Hall, which is seen as the impossible and after much skepticism agrees and they hatch a plan....

 

With murders, deaths, threats and truths the end of this book is certainly a real page turner that brings huge changes to the characters involved. "This is a crafted story with a desire to tackle serious contemporary issues about humanity's relationship with death, nature, science and personal and social responsibility." This quote summarizes the story well and emphasizes Gemma Malley's links with issues in society today as the strong and engaging ones that they are.

 

The Declaration is a well written, good structured and exciting read with an incredible plot and even more incredible end. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an action-packed and enthralling book. 

Felix, from University College School London

The Declaration tells the story of life on Earth in 2140, and how the now dreamed of everlasting life may not be a good thing. This is a book full of emotion, describing the helplessness of the small children. It tells vividly of human jealousy and mistrust, but also of the incredible bond of two small children. This is a book which stirs deep feelings inside you and shows that something wonderful like everlasting life may not be as wonderful as it first seems.

 

The main character is ‘surplus’ Anna, who works in a house for surpluses called Grange Hall. These are children whose parents gave birth to a child without signing the Declaration, which says that you are not allowed to give birth and live forever. Because an everlasting drug has been invented called Longevity, which helps everybody live forever. However, this means that if people are still giving birth to children, the earth is going to fill up and there is no space for everybody. Therefore the authorities said that whoever gives birth has to sign the Declaration (or opt-out), which meant that they were not allowed to take longevity drugs and had to die normally. Whoever gave birth to a child without signing the Declaration would be hunted down and their child would be taken away from them to go to a Surplus hall. Here they would train to be house servants until they were adult, to people with longevity drugs. Anna was one of these surpluses.

 

Anna was a very good surplus. She believed that she should not exist and was a bad person. She hated her parents and worked hard because she thought it was wrong to be born and was in debt. However, a boy called Peter turned up at Grange Hall. He had stayed with Anna’s parents and believed that it was not their fault but the authority’s. He soon tried to convince Anna, telling her of the wonders of the outside world…

 

Anna starts off in the story as a shy, unconfident little girl, easily lead by stories of her wrongdoing and the rules of the authorities and Grange Hall. She doesn’t question any rules and believes that she should not question anything, mainly because she does not have the confidence to question anything. When Peter arrives, she feeds off his belief and soon starts to undermine the rules and finds confidence with Peter to live a real life. Peter is a confident boy who always believes in things being better. He has been in the outside world and believes in a better life for everybody. He shows Anna what she can do and how far they can get together.

 

This is a very good book, full of emotion and inner feelings, showing how good things may not be so wonderful. It shows how different people give other people a new personality. I would give this 8/10.

George, from Hampstead School London

The Declaration is an emotional book about a girl called Anna in an unnatural world.  People are not allowed to have children if they want to have the ‘longevity’ drug.  This drug keeps people alive unnaturally long.  Anna is a ‘surplus’ - she learns life skills at a surplus home called Grange Hill.

The Declaration is supposed to be interesting, which it is at the start.  It gradually turns into a slightly repetitive novel in which Anna has small problems.  Peter, a new boy, arrives, bringing trouble with him.  Peter teaches Anna to dream of a world outside of Grange Hill while the reader dreams of a life without The Declaration. ...

While this book is meant to create emotional outbursts it creates outbursts of anger as the reader realizes they have wasted seven pounds on it.  This book is meant for a younger audience, girls between 9 and 12; anyone else would definitely not enjoy it.

 

Georgia , from The Henrietta Barnett School London

The Declaration is a story set in the future about a fifteen year old named Anna. She has been imprisoned for being born (now the world’s biggest crime, thanks to the invention of immortality). Anna is enjoying herself until Peter turns up from the outside gets in and starts trying to get her to escape. Children becoming slaves to adults is an all-too-common plot, but this book had a different quality to most other versions.

 

The book starts off with a brand new and overly fascinating outlook, in that Anna is actually content, if not happy, to be living at Grange Hall, which is essentially a school for Surpluses (the term used for Anna and her illegal equals). This provides a bizarre twist of optimism on the typical grey building. She respects the antagonists, actually enjoys her gruel, and, most shockingly to both the readers and Peter, shows absolutely no desire to leave.  An example of this is "I'm very lucky to be here, actually. I've got a chance to redeem my Parents' Sins, if I work hard enough and become employable. Not everyone gets that kind of chance, Mrs Pincent says. In some countries Surpluses are killed, put down like animals." This quote shows a number of things. Firstly it reveals how much she values the words of anybody above her, secondly, how she believes anything she's told, and finally, her views on Grange Hall.

 

The book has a dystopia theme in that life for Surpluses is the worst possible world with degrading and impossible lifestyles, and as life above is in an energy crisis, plus children being banned, the Above is far from being the ideal world. I found this made me look at the world in a different way. It is certainly a very interesting aspect of the book.

 

The main character by far was, of course, Anna. This is because she is the person who the story is centred around. She is the same age as the audience the book is aimed at and is also the right gender. She is very easy to relate to because adults are using her (though she is unaware), and is in a world where children are hated. Anna is unable to work at her full potential since everyone is against her. These are all working with the common but wrong idea that all children hate teachers, all adults or, like Anna does, just their parents.

 

Anna is also the character who changes the most over the book. At the beginning of the book, Anna is revealed as a girl who has very little personality, and does not have a mind of her own. She doesn't value friendships and obeys rules, which makes her an extremely difficult character to work with. It isn't just that she lacks the typical 'shy, afraid to speak her mind' personality, it's that she lacks any personality. Her only hint of a trait is in the form of her journal, the one rule that she broke. However, once she meets Peter, his personality (defiant, outgoing, rebellious, strong-willed) is inflicted on her, and she gradually becomes more and more of a problem to Mrs Pincent and. simultaneously, more of a person. By the end of the book she has managed to gain an almost perfect clone of Peter's personality.

 

The writer uses the interesting technique of giving Anna a journal and writing the entries as a part of the book, so that though she can get in plenty of opinions and worries about everything, the author is still able to avoid the shackles of writing in the first person. Instead, Malley is able to write some enjoyable portions of the story from other characters’ points of view, which piece together into an enjoyable but, more importantly, understandable story.

 

Overall, I would recommend this book as a mild page-turner, but would disallow it for those looking for a thriller or a challenge.

Gloriya, from Hampstead School London

An exiting and adventurous story, The Declaration is my favourite of the five books I’ve read. It tells you exactly what, who, where, when, why and how everything is. Its description is remarkably attractive; it describes everything in a fun and enjoyable way.

 

Anna Covey got separated from her parents because of the ‘declaration’. She is now known as ‘Surplus Anna’ in Grange Hall - a place of obedience, a place where from a baby to16 years old you learn that you shouldn’t exist, shouldn’t have anything. To serve as a valuable asset on the outside of Grange Hall. Until one day a new surplus came to Grange Hall, and told Anna everything. He told her that they have to get away from that place, but will they??? 

Jack, from University College School London

The Declaration is a book based on the practices of Chinese leaders Mao and Chen. These two introduced the one-child rule as an answer to overpopulation. This book follows a very similar theme. It is set 32 years in the future when overpopulation has become a major problem. This is due to a drug called ‘longevity’, a drug that means that you can’t die. At first this was a great idea; however, slowly, the population began to increase and they passed a law called ‘The Declaration’. This prevented any parent having a baby from the time the law was set. The only two ways you can have a baby or keep your baby is if you opt out of taking longevity, or if one of your parents dies. (Longevity only stops you dying of old age or illness; if you get hit by a car, for instance, you would die)

 

All children who were born after The Declaration were sent to a place called Grange Hall. This was a horrible place; children were referred to as ‘surplus’ (not wanted). They were fed hardly anything and lived in barely liveable conditions. At Grange Hall the children were brainwashed to believe that they were paying for their parents’ sins. At the age of sixteen they were to be a slave for a ‘legal’ (someone on Longevity). However, a group of people called the underground movement fight against the drug. Including Anna’s parents.

 

The story starts with a young girl called Anna, a strong believer in the rules of Grange Hall, and she believes her parents were bad people and that she was right to have to live a life of misery, as are the other people at Grange Hall.

 

However, when a boy called Peter comes along he starts to slowly sway Anna’s belief that everything at Grange Hall is right. It takes a long time for Anna to believe what Peter is saying but eventually they become great friends. Anna starts to break the rules...

 

I would recommend this book to the ages of about 10-14. I think it is a well structured book but is based strongly on historical fact and can be complicated and sophisticated…

Joe, from University College School London

This book was published in 2007, it has been deemed “one of the best written books of the year” by The Sunday Telegraph and I completely agree.

 

The book is 301 gripping pages and is set in the future in the year 2140. The story takes place in London and is set mainly in Grange Hall, a home for illegal children who are called ‘Surpluses’. The main character is a girl called Anna who is not the story-teller but writes a diary which we read in the book. There has been a medical breakthrough and doctors have made pills that keep you alive forever but the Authorities have realized that with children being born and no one dying, there won’t be enough resources left; their solution is to ban people from having children, simple! Ah, but the problem was just a few awkward defiant people just wouldn’t accept it so they were put under lock and key. In other countries their children would be put down like rabid dogs, but this is England, a humane country, so we just lock children up in Surplus homes and teach them valuable skills so they will be able to serve Legal people and repay mother nature for their sin of being born. The story starts in Grange Hall with Anna writing in her secret diary, setting the scene and telling us about the facts that have been drilled into her about her background. But will Anna accept all this or will she question Authority…

 

This book is utterly stunning and is probably the best I’ve ever read.

Joshua, from University College School London

When I first saw The Declaration, I thought it would be boring, about life in a modern-day child prison or something. The title is meaningless and the title meant absolutely nothing to me. The blurb was equally as boring as the rest of the cover and tells you nothing of the setting other than ‘… life at Grange Hall is governed by rules in order to make up for breaking the biggest rule of all. Being born.’ As you can see this tells the reader absolutely nothing about it.

 

However, this book is an example of the old saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’! Inside the book Gemma Malley has created a new era. The book is set in the future, so kind of sci-fi, but Gemma writes in such a way that it never occurs to you until after you have finished the book. This is the only book that I have read that can portray this so well and the only one that has tried!

 

The book begins with the main character, Anna, beginning to keep a diary in a ‘surplus’ home. A surplus home is full of children whose parents have given birth to them with The Declaration still signed. The Declaration is something that everyone has to sign unless they want to have children. If The Declaration is signed, the signer gets free tablets every day to keep them alive forever. However, the signer cannot have children, because otherwise the world would become too overpopulated. Surpluses usually become servants, butlers, maids and cleaners for the people who take the tablets. Grange Hall, where Anna lives, trains Surpluses into servants, but they are never allowed to take the tablets and will die early on in life. Anna is a prefect and is one of the best-behaved people in the centre. She does not have many friends because she tells on people so much and has power over most other children. Still, she keeps her diary, but is scared at the same time of being found out and beaten. Then a new Surplus comes. His name is Peter and he is 14, the same age as Anna. Surpluses are always hidden away by their parents, but are almost always found out by the time they are 8, so when Peter was found, everyone was confused about how he had been discovered so late. Anna has to look after him and show him the ropes, but he is difficult and always calls her Anna Covey. He says he came in deliberately to help get Anna out and back to her parents. But Anna hates her parents because, over the years, Mrs Pincent, the House Matron or ‘Headmistress’, has ‘brainwashed’ her into thinking that her parents were horrible and criminal. This means that she hates Peter even more and doesn’t want to go Outside into a place she has been only once before. What is magical about the book is the persuasive speech and attitude of the very brave Peter who, after a long period of time manages to persuade Anna. It is interesting to see how Anna writes from hating him to a giant feeling of warmth and love for the boy. To get out Peter puts together a plan…

 

I think this book is the best example of: never judge a book by its cover. I’m keen on the book and I think it is well worth a read for any age, any taste and any sex!!! My verdict is: a book written from a different perspective than most books! Absolutely gripping! 9.5/10!!!

Joshua, from University College School London

In the future a drug is discovered which means that people can live for ever (or almost). The only problem with this is people are constantly having children and everyone’s living for ever, so the solution is to create a ‘declaration’. This declaration says from now on all children are illegal, they are not allowed to be created. Some people still break the declaration and these children are either killed or they are sent to orphanages. Our protagonist is Anna, who is one of these kids; she meets another kid called Peter and it is about their bid for freedom.

 

From this book [come] many questions about philosophy; after reading this book. I spent another day trying to answer the questions about what would be the way out, and what is the right thing to do. It was very interesting. I would give this a solid 9/10, it was very, very good, the best out of the books I was given. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants a book and I would definitely say buy it.

 

There are some very sad moments which I was very moved by; it is not a light comedy by any means. I will be looking forward to the next in the series and I will buy it. I will congratulate Gemma when I see her, on her masterpiece’ it is just so well written, and I’m not just copying that from the front cover! It shattered my perception of a book in that I do not love philosophical books and it opened a whole new side of reading to me.

 

To conclude this was absolutely brilliant fiction with some very sad and moving bits. It is so worth buying and it is [draws you] into the book right till the last page, and even then you see that there are more books in the series to come.

Kate, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

The Declaration by Gemma Malley is a haunting novel about how things could be like in many years to come. Anna Covey (a teenage ‘Surplus’) lives in a time where Longevity drugs have been discovered and there is no longer enough room or resources for more people to be born. If adults want to, they can sign a contract meaning they can have one child but won’t be allowed Longevity drugs. ‘A life for a life’. However, if an adult has a child but still takes Longevity drugs, their child will be hunted down and placed into Surplus Halls where they are terribly treated and are given no contact to the outside world. This page-turner is the struggle for Surplus Anna to be free as one boy knows she should be.

 

I found this book gripping and thought-provoking. The condition in which the Surplus children are treated is shocking and it really made me think about what would really happen if Longevity drugs are discovered, [and] how it would affect the world if nobody died and populations kept on growing. I did find some of the description and emphasis a bit unbelievable at times, however I found the overall book very effective. The Declaration was suspenseful and imaginative and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Meera, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This book was set in the future and about a fifteen-year-old girl called Anna. She lives in a place called Grange Hall, which is a bit like a boarding school, but extremely horrible. They treat everyone badly and they don’t live very nice lives. This is because Anna and all the other children at Grange Hall are ‘surpluses’, unwanted children.

 

Anna doesn’t remember her parents and hates them for ever giving birth to her. They are the reason she was put in Grange Hall, her mother illegally gave birth to her. Anna obeys all the rules at Grange Hall and is an extremely good surplus until Peter comes along. He convinces her to question the rules and together they escape and find Anna’s parents.

 

I thought this book was really good. It was very original and gripping. I couldn’t put it down. It was quite sad reading about the horrible lives the surpluses had to lead especially as it wasn’t their fault that they were born as surpluses. I really liked the author’s style of writing as she switched from Anna’s diary to the third person. This gave me an insight into what Anna was thinking and what was really happening in detail.

 

At first I did not like Anna’s character at all, she seemed very weak and sounded like a pushover. She was also not particularly nice to Sheila, the only other surplus trying to be her friend. Once Peter comes to Grange Hall and starts telling Anna about the outside world I started to like her a little more as she wasn’t such a pushover and stuck with what she had been taught. When she eventually listens to what he says and decided to escape I felt extremely pleased because finally something good was going to happen to her. By the end of the book I liked Anna a lot more.

 

The author described everything really well so it made me feel like I was right there with Anna throughout the whole book. I could really imagine Grange Hall in great detail and all the horrible chores the surpluses had to do.  The ending of the book was great as it was unpredictable and I felt satisfied with it. I would definitely recommend The Declaration to other people. 

Oscar, from University College School London

Set in a dystopian future, where any children that are born are instantly snatched up and taken away to spend their whole lives working for Legals. They are known as ‘Surplus’. The Declaration follows the story of one of these Surpluses - Surplus Anna - who will always stick to the barbaric rules and the sum total of her ambition is to be a ‘Valuable Asset’. She lives in Grange Hall, a workhouse designed to make sure these Surpluses ‘Know Their Place’ and be as ‘Useful’ as they can. That all begins to change when Surplus Peter arrives.

 

The World is a natural continuation of life today, with the same worries - climate change for example - but these scientists of the future have discovered something which totally shakes up our understanding, a secret that changes everything: people live forever. Yet this book doesn’t really fall into the classification of Science Fiction as it’s very much the Dickensian story of the (effectively) parent-less child working as hard as they can in large dingy buildings with lots of stern adults and other children everywhere.

 

The characters are generally well fleshed out with many layers each and while the plot lines went together a little unrealistically at the end they did round off the story nicely and leave you with a pleasant feeling of satisfaction. What is also very interesting is that, because everyone is the same, year-in and year-out, time effectively stands still - it could be 2070 or 3070. There is no change. This story also is about chaos theory - you change one thing (people can live for ever) and all of society changes, whilst being completely stationary.

 

Yet what is quite scary is that this could so easily be real. Not one of the leaps is so unlikely that we, for certain, would never agree to it, as it’s just in the bigger picture that it shocks you.  To combat over-population you might naturally introduce a one-child policy, just like China, and  then, realising it doesn’t work (with people killing their children until they get one they like and the population still growing), it is purely logical to get the babies who are illegal to be helpful. And that is what makes this book very good - it’s believable.

Radha, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

 

This book is based in the future 2140. There is a drug called Longevity which makes you live for eternity. Everybody takes this drug and if nobody dies then nobody else can live. So in turn nobody is allowed to have a child unless they don’t take the drug or die for their child. A life for a life. Anna is a ‘surplus’, a person who shouldn’t be alive, a curse on Mother Nature. She is being prepared to be a ‘valuable asset’. This means when she is fifteen she will be sent to a house to be a maid. ‘In six months I’m going to be a valuable asset’, this is what Anna says when she is trying to convince herself that there is nothing going on in Grange Hall.

 

Anna is fourteen and in six months it’s her 15th birthday - that is when she can finally leave Grange Hall. Grange Hall is full of surpluses, people who don’t have the right to live. They are called surpluses instead of a surname e.g. ‘surplus Anna’. Anna is a lovely girl but is brought up hating her parents but that all changes when she meets Peter. Peter is the most amazing boy ever. He has purposely got caught to meet Anna and to bring her home. Every child that has been born after the declaration must be sent to surplus house. There are catchers who get paid for catching surpluses who shouldn’t be living in the outside world. Peter has made an escape plan and only has a few weeks to convince Anna to leave with him. ...

 

This is a great book and I am very eager to read the sequel. Although I don’t read books that often, I especially liked this book because firstly not many books are set in the future and it was quite realistic.

Radhia, from Hampstead School London

At the start of this book, after reading the blurb, I thought it was going to be confusing. I was still confused after the first two chapters. However, once I focused on reading the book, I became involved and thoroughly enjoyed it. The book was filled with sadness, tension and a great deal of cruelty. The [story] is set at Grange Hall which is a kind of foster home. The children are sent there to pay for their parents’ sins. The characters are believable and I felt great empathy for them. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I think it is mostly suitable for girls aged 12-15. I found it a most enjoyable, haunting and suspense-filled book.

Rebecca, from Hampstead School London

The Declaration is what I call a brilliant book. It has ups, downs, lows, highs and still you just have to know what's happening! The idea of the book is in the future, at the time when doctors have found a cure for everything, even death, leaving the world extremely over-populated. The solution is for people to choose between two things - have children, or live forever. But, choose both, and as a punishment, you go to prison and the child is sent to a labour camp. Now it may seem horrific at first, but honestly, it all adds up...

 

There are many stories of many people's lives around this book, which makes it more exciting when you see the links which tangle them together. The 'speed' of the different stories is unbalanced, which could be a challenge for 'inexperienced' readers as it's hard to catch up on certain things, but a rewarding challenge all the same!

 

I would recommend this book to 12- to about 14/15-year-old girls. Girls because most of the main story is narrated by a girl (Anna) who definitely has thoughts that would be 'off-putting' for boys. It is exceptionally good that there is a sequel, encouraging the readers to read even more! In this sense, it's the perfect book to 'hook' people into reading! I know that in five years, I will still remember this book! 

Sally, from The Henrietta Barnett School London
The Declaration is set in the future when longevity drugs have been invented. The Longevity drug gives everyone the potential to live forever, but at a price. People must choose between having a child or immortality, so at the age of sixteen everyone is given a choice to sign the declaration and take longevity drugs or have children and die at a natural age.

Obviously, there are always going to be some people who rebel against the idea and have children anyway, after taking the drug. They are thrown in jail, and the child is sent off to a workhouse where they are trained to serve others. They are not told anything about their parents, not even their names and are instead called ‘Surpluses’.

The story begins with an entry in ‘Surplus Anna’s’ diary and starts off with the words ‘My name is Anna. My name is Anna and I shouldn’t exist. But I do.’ In the workhouse where Surpluses are brought up, they are taught to be ‘useful’ and that they shouldn’t be on Earth so they need to make it up to Nature by helping others. They are told on a daily basis that they are worthless, a mistake, and eventually they hate their parents for having them.

Anna is an ‘ideal’ surplus and in the first part of the book you really get to see the world through her eyes. She believes passionately that her parents hate her and that she must make it up to the world for being born. She has lessons and chores everyday and if misbehaved, would be beaten. Surplus’s aren’t allowed possessions but Anna writes in a diary that she hides in the bathroom.

After a while, she hears that a boy is being taken in and is a teenager - around her age. She is surprised because usually Surpluses are taken in as small children or babies when they are found by the Catchers. She gets excited and curious about this new arrival although when she meets him, she dislikes him immediately. He is called Peter and questions everything, is aggressive and not afraid to speak his thoughts. She soon finds out he knows her parents and he tries desperately to convince her that her parents love her and that she should exist.

As soon as Peter arrives, you can immediately see Anna starting to change. She begins to question things and even believe some of the things Peter tells her. You can see this in her Diary where she begins to wonder about the ‘Outside’. But it is often like she is arguing with herself, ‘Imagining what it would be like, when it doesn’t matter because I’m a surplus so Outside doesn’t belong to me.’ She feels excitement with Peter and fear as well, as she can never predict what he will do next. Eventually she begins to trust Peter and when she finds out that people are planning to kill him they decide to escape together.

It is an amazing tale of friendship and love and is one I couldn’t put down. I enjoyed getting to know the different characters and their vast differences and then seeing them change dramatically. I felt like I was going through each one of their feelings and seeing the story through everyone’s eyes. Out of the [selected] books, this is one of my favourites and I enjoyed reading it thoroughly.
Sophie, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Anna is a ‘surplus’. She is not meant to be in this world, but she is. She was born and hidden illegally but with a lot of love. But only if she hadn’t cried that one day in the attic, maybe her life could have been simpler. She was brought up from the age of three, to blame herself. She was told that she was useless, a waste of space and that it was her fault she was here. Of course none of this was true. It was all because of the new technology, the longevity drugs. It was a stupid idea in the first place. The same people living on the same planet forever. No fresh blood, no new life, just the same people for the end of existence.

 

But those who didn’t opt out of the drugs and who broke the law to have children would be caught. The Catchers were out to get you. All the surplus’s that got caught had to go to Grange Hall. It was their home until sixteen when, if they were a valuable asset, they would go onto the outside to serve in a home. Surplus’s weren’t allowed longevity as they did not deserve to live forever.

 

Peter changed Anna, for good. He knew her parents and the thing that most annoyed me about Anna is the way that she was brought up. She did not believe Peter. She wouldn’t believe he was telling the truth. She thought that she was so bad and she hated herself. She was so arrogant, but in the end she trusted all the strange and exciting things Peter said, and she escaped with him into the outside.

 

This book predicts the future and although it is fiction it still makes me think about what our future could be like. The future would not be bright if the earth turned out like that as there would be much corruption on Earth. The author’s prediction of the future makes you want to finish the book to find out what could be.

Tanjia, from Hampstead School London

I thought The Declaration was a haunting and suspense-filled page turner. I definitely enjoyed the book, every page I turned I felt more excited and wanted to keep on reading and reading; I didn’t want it to end.

 

My favourite character was Peter. I found him caring, gentle and extremely strong natured.

 

There wasn’t a single part of the novel I disliked. I realised that this was a book that I’d love to read again. It is a rare book which made me change the way I see the world.

Tasnim, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

The Declaration is a riveting story about 12-year-old Anna. In Anna's mind, she's a worthless scum and the fact that she is in Grange Hall - a place that makes hell seem like a stroll in the park - should [make her] very grateful. Grange Hall is a solitude of pain and deception, where every moment could be Anna's last.

 

She soon starts to write and record all that's been tangled up in her mind into a diary, which she hides away every night. But when Peter comes and gives her a reality check, she starts to question all that she's ever known - life for Anna is never the same again.

 

Gemma Malley's style of taking something so simple - the longevity (age lifting) drug -  has grown and formed a spell-binding and suspenseful book. My all-time favourite part would have to be the growing adrenalin of when Peter and Anna hide in Mrs Sharpe's holiday house, and they are about to be seized within the clutches of the catchers. I recommend this book to all ages and I would rate it 4 out of 5.

Tom, from University College School London

The Declaration is set in 2140, and ‘longevity’ drugs have been invented, allowing people to live forever. This means there can be no children, or the world would quickly become overcrowded; parents can ‘opt out’ of longevity, but it is a rare thing to do. All children born of parents who have not opted out are taken to ‘Surplus Halls’, where they are treated like dirt, with no outside contact, and taught to believe they have no right to existence. One surplus who has responded perfectly to the system, who believes she is a blot on the earth, who obeys all orders given by ‘legals’ and who hates her parents with the utmost passion, is Anna Covey. Her life is clear: she will work as hard as she can to pay off her debt to society, her debt for being born. Soon, and somewhat predictably, a boy, Peter, comes from the Outside to try to get Anna to escape with him. What follows is a gripping and powerful page turner, as Anna slowly realises her rights as a human being; and her attempts to escape, with Peter, from the system that has controlled her for as long as she can remember.

 

I can’t deny it, The Declaration was very good. I really couldn’t put it down; this is one of those rare books that you have to finish in a day. The character of Anna Covey is very effective, and the battle that she has, with the system, but more importantly with herself, is very well portrayed and extremely effective. Gemma Malley gradually changes Anna’s way of acting and talking throughout the book, as she frees herself from the chains of being a surplus. Peter wasn’t as interesting a character; he gave the irritating impression of being a ‘guardian angel’. I really loved the way she didn’t exactly present the ‘baddies’ as being pure evil, as they were at the beginning, but they also developed and became interesting three-dimensional characters.

 

Though The Declaration did suffer from predictability (I mean, we all knew that Peter and Anna would fall in love, and that they would successfully escape, and even the twist at the end - I wont say what it is, spoilers are bad - wasn’t exactly going to knock you off your seat), despite this, I would definitely advise anyone to read this book. I’d certainly read the next book in the series, The Resistance.