Gemma Malley The year is 2140. Having escaped the horrors of Grange Hall, Peter and Anna are living freely on the Outside, trying hard to lead normal lives, but unable to leave the terror of the Declaration—and their experiences as surpluses—completely behind them. Peter is determined to infiltrate Pharma Corporation, which claims to have a new drug in the works; “Longevity+” will not just stop the ravages of old age, it is rumored to reverse the aging process. But what Peter and Anna discover behind the walls of Pharma is so nightmarish it makes the prison of their childhood seem like a sanctuary: for in order to supply Pharma with the building blocks for Longevity+, scientists will need to harvest it from the young. Shocking, controversial, and frighteningly topical, this sequel to Gemma Malley’s stellar debut novel, The Declaration, will take the conversation about ethics and science to the next level. Please note that this is the second book in Gemma Malley’s The Declaration trilogy and as such may contain spoilers for the first book.
The story continues from not long after the point where we left it in The Declaration (read my review here). Peter and Anna are living legally on the outside, trying to cope with their new life and looking after little Ben, Anna’s brother. Anna is enjoying being a mother to Ben but is struggling with living in the world so different from the Surplus Hall. Both she and Peter feel alien from this society and Anna particularly feels the stares of those who disapprove of her youth and her status. Neither Anna nor Peter have signed the declaration and neither want to take the wonder drug Longevity that will keep them alive for ever, but at the expense of not being able to have children and create new life. As they are refusing the drug and because of their background a close eye is being kept on them by the authorities.
Unsurprisingly, after all their experiences, Peter and Anna want to help the resistance movement in its fight against Longevity and its producer Pincent Pharma, Peter’s Grandfather’s company. Peter agrees to go and work for the company to feed information back to the Resistance, but he finds this a difficult task as his Grandfather starts to pressurise and then manipulate Peter to get what he wants, which is for Peter to sign up to the Declaration. For the reader though, the insight into Pincent Pharma and the whole operation is interesting, as well as watching the development of Peter’s relationship with his Grandfather, Pincent himself
Meanwhile Anna is also being manipulated , for the same reason, and to try and catch her out, getting her into trouble. Anna still has much of the naivety and innocence from her life shut way and inexperience of the real world. Anna is desperate to do her bit to help and her desire to help other children who have been abandoned by their parents, or taken from their parents, causes problems. As this novel is told from Peter’s voice I did miss Anna’s voice from the first book. Peter has a fresh perspective though that adds a new dimension.
I enjoyed the development of Peter and Anna’s relationship. It was so easy to see how they have become like a normal couple with arguments, insecurities and ups and downs and yet they are a couple like no other in the world that they live in. The pressure and insecurities this brings really tests them.
There are new characters too from the Resistance and other places. Peter and Anna have to work out where to put their trust. One of the most interesting new characters is Jude who has another unique perspective as he is Peter’s age but having been a legal all his life. He is a computer whizz kid, but his life shows us how the worlds resources have been stretched by immortality. On top of that he is Peter’s half-brother and takes us deeper into the back story.
The on-going story continues to provoke, raising issues about our desire to live longer, the price we pay for immortality, the cost to the world as we use our resources carelessly and so on. In particular it made me think about our priorities as we encourage everyone to work more and not necessarily be at home with children and families. This really made me feel that the right to be a mother is precious and not to be taken for granted. Verdict: This is a brilliant follow on from The Declaration and is another gripping and challenging read. Reviewed by Helen