Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Declaration

The Declaration

Gemma Malley
For ages 14 and up
Bloomsbury USA , 2007   ISBN: 978-1599901190

For the first three years of her life Anna had a proper last name. Then her parents were arrested and imprisoned and she was brought to Grange Hall. Since then she has been called Surplus Anna, one of many surplus children who live in the forbidding and unhappy institution for unwanted children. Because Anna's parents took the Longevity drugs and did not opt out they had no right to have her. They were not supposed to have her and yet they did. Anna is therefore not a Legal. She is a surplus, a burden who must do all she can to make herself Useful so that she can be a "Valuable Asset" to society. This is what Surplus Anna, now a teenager, works towards. She believes all she has been told. The words have been drummed and beaten into her and she believes that she is unworthy and that her parents were wrong to do what they did.

Then a new boy called Peter arrives at Grange Hall. Not only does he defy the establishment and infuriate the House Matron, but he tells Anna her real last name. He also tells her that her parents love her. Peter's words and actions upset Anna's belief system. Suddenly she begins to wonder if what she has been told is true. Is she really as worthless as she has been led to believe? Were her parents wrong to defy the law and the Declaration?

When Anna discovers that Peter is to be killed she is finally forced to accept that the world she lives in is truly unjust and corrupted. She and Peter flee from Grange Hall and soon have Catchers seeking them out. Peter is determined to reunite Anna with her parents, which was his mission all along. Perhaps if they make it to safety, they can be protected by the Underground Movement, a secret organization that is working against the establishment to bring an end to the persecution of surplus children and the domination of society by the Legals who want to live forever.

Often quite alarming and disturbing, this incredible novel will give readers a lot to think about. For those of us who think that they would like to live forever, it poses some thought-provoking questions. The book shows us how wanting to live forever could shape the world in a dark and frightening way if we are not careful. Sometimes wanting something badly enough makes people forget how to behave with humanity and decency. We have seen it before in world history. Could it happen again if we discover a longevity drug?