The Declaration by Gemma Malley

December 15, 2009
By Technetium SILVER, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Technetium SILVER, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

The Declaration addresses an important point that has not been considered widely before: What are the implications of immortality in a world of finite resources? But it does not make believable predictions of the more complex consequences, and more importantly, does not consider the advance of technology that would probably make the issue obsolete by the time the book is set in.
The story begins on January 11, 2140 in a Surplus Hall with the illicit diary of Anna, a Surplus. Drugs developed in the mid-21st century to replace decayed cells with fresh ones have made it possible for life to be sustained indefinitely. But with not enough having been done to switch to sustainable alternatives, the world’s resources are being overtaxed.
With the Surplus Act of 2088 by Parliament(this story is set in the UK, but similar measures have been enacted worldwide), anyone whose parents took Longevity is deemed a Surplus. Having Surpluses is illegal and those who do will be sent to prison, but only for a limited time. Their progeny, however, are condemned to a life of virtual slavery for the Legals, who are those who take Longevity. This is the worst aspect of the system-how the parents usually get only a jail sentence while their children live from birth to death under brutal abuse, deprivation, and the denial of basic human rights. They are trained from birth to “Know Their Place” and obey the Legals unquestioningly. Every night, they repeat vows to do this.
Anna meets Peter, a Surplus who has evaded capture for years and is now 14, as old as Anna. It soon becomes clear that he allowed himself to be captured in order to help Anna escape, but she will have nothing to do with it. But when Ms. Pincent, the person running the Surplus Hall, tries to have Peter killed, Anna agrees to escape with him.
I think I’ll stop the summary there, in order to leave you in suspense regarding whether they escape and what happens after the attempt.
I had two big problems with this book, but maybe I read so much SF that I’m being unrealistic about how far we can advance in 131 years. Maybe the author didn’t know this, but scientists working on the project predict that hydrogen fusion will become practical by 2035. And yet, a century after that date, there is still dependence on fossil fuels that is frantically trying to be stopped because of still-ongoing global warming. I don’t think so.
The number two thing is the system itself. I do not think it is even close to believable the way the peoples of the world let the Surpluses be treated. A coup, a dictatorship, and an ideological class structure I can almost believe. But in this world, democracy still exists in Britain. If, in the USA, a certain class of people was, by law, stolen from their parents as soon as they were found, forced into a military-style academy when that time came, beaten and put in solitary confinement when they refused to obey, and when they grew up made to do all the worst jobs for whatever meager pay people chose to give them, would you tolerate that? If democracy was still alive and well except for these people, wouldn’t you write to the president or speak to reports or join a group demanding an end to it? There is only one way it could happen, and that is through apathy. But I don’t think it could ever get that far, people closing their eyes to the indoctrinated slaves around them. Africa people don’t care about because it’s distant and insubstantial. But these Surpluses are a part of normal life. I cannot believe that, merely by slow transition, the entire world could sink that low.
Otherwise, it is fairly well told. The plot and characters are both fairly good, but not exemplary. In another writer’s hands, this might have been a good premise for a storyline. But for a book to become truly great, both superlative skill in writing and an idea never even come close to before are needed. This story has neither.
I consider this book to have a good premise but to be written by an ill-informed author and to be written with only mediocre quality.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!