Everyone knows death is inevitable. The Declaration explores what would happen if it suddenly was off the table – if, with the simple use of a pill, we could in fact live forever. But it wants to go deeper than that – what does an eternal existence cost?
The world Malley presents in The Declaration is set in 2140, yet in all honesty it does not seem much different from our own time, but with one crucial difference: the use of Longevity, a drug designed to make the user stop aging. However, in exchange for the privilege of using Longevity, one must sign a declaration promising never to have children. This is in order to preserve the world’s dwindling resources. With so many adults – or Legals – choosing Longevity, the strain on resources is enormous, and there are massive penalties for having a child after signing the Declaration. Such children are called ‘Surpluses’, and it’s through a Surplus teenager named Anna that we discover more about this strange and rather bleak future.
The Declaration is definitely in the ‘young’ camp of young adult, or at least for those with a high tolerance for some shoddy prose and basic dialogue. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable – though Anna herself is a bit of a blank, her male counterpart Peter is more interesting, and the villains are suitably malevolent. The story checks all the requisite YA boxes and more often than not does so very well. Again, the writing is not the best, yet something keeps you reading until you finish; I’d put this down to the author’s understanding of a good winding mystery. The twists towards the end were surprising and solid enough so that I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time on an inferior book.
As with every second YA book out there, The Declaration is the first in a series (a trilogy, I believe), and Malley is clearly setting up a card house to play with in the coming books. It’s an easy read that won’t tax anyone (the preteen set included), so I’d recommend it if you’re after something interesting and quick!