The DeclarationWow! I read this book in one sitting. The story is well developed, the characters too.
First Published: October 2007
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?
Anna is a great character, though she is quite closed off to new ideas. You don't really see the full Anna until she starts to trust Peter. Peter has the image that he isn't scared of anything, though he is on a quest of his own and will find out through the book how many other secrets and lies he has been told.
Both Anna and Peter are Surplus, they aren't legal. They have no rights, they shouldn't be born. You have to remember throughout this book that it is in fact set in 2140. The world has changed massively, no one dies! Of course this lead to rules and regulations, this lead to the Declaration! The Declaration states that in order for the world to continue there must be no more children born. Those that are born are hunted down by Catchers, they are not legal. Don't get me wrong there are children born but these are born to parents that opt-out of the drug Longativity. Surplus can't stay hidden forever, especially not in a world where the youngest person should be 50!
The story is mainly focused on Anna and Peter, Anna had lived at Grange Hall for as long as she remembers, she wants to become a Valuable Asset. She feels the need to pay Mother Nature back because of her parents mistake, she is being punished for her parents having her. She is well on her way as well, until she meets Peter. Peter has just been caught the strange thing is though, he is about the same age as Anna. No one gets caught at that age. He had other plans though, he wants to escape and take Anna with him. But why?
The setting is in fact the greatest thing about the book, it give you a very bleak view into the future. How could people possibly get away with treating children as slaves? That is practically what they are. They get beaten when they so much as think about the world outside. In fact they cannot be children, they have to learn to grow pretty fast.
I feel there were a few loose ends, partly on the case of Mrs Pincent who was in charge of the Hall. I would have liked to see more information about her past, why she was involved with the black market. I hope the author delves more into this in the secod book.