The title comes from the piece of paper 16 year old signed when the population laws first came about. At 16 a teen much decide if they want to sign the declaration and agree never to have children. Once it is signed the declaration cannot be reversed.
Years later, people regret their decision and begin having children in secret. If they are found these children, classified as surplus, are put into a sort of orphanage or servant training camp where any sense of entitlement to life is beat out of them.
This world has a rigid class system based, in part, on the population laws. The rich are served by the children who unlawfully exist but are given the privilege of life through their submission and servitude to the rich. The are trained not to ask questions and not to think for themselves.
The lives of adults are indefinitely extended and the result is a stagnant world without youth to infuse new ideas. The underlying effectiveness of this provides the government with pure control.
The Declaration is the first book in the series followed by The Resistance which I hope to read soon. Gemma Malley's writing is interesting and engaging. Her world is so well thought out. Reading this book really brought me to think about things in different ways. There is so much complexity in this world you really just need to experience it for yourself. Please let me know if you have read this book. I would love to know what you think about it.
This series is like a grown up version of the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix with more violence and intense themes.
Gemma Malley has a great website about the book. I found the following question and answer there.
Lots of things inspired me to write The Declaration, but the most important one was an article I read in a newspaper, which was about how scientific breakthroughs meant that within a few years, we could all be living much longer, and about a scientist who said it was the moral duty of the scientific community to do everything it could to extend the life span of humans — perhaps indefinitely. And as I read this article, I began to think that if everyone lived forever, or even for a very long time, there wouldn't be any room on the earth for us all before too long. And then I wondered if, maybe, if everyone lived forever, people would have to stop having children. That seemed to me the most appalling and horrific idea, and as soon as I'd had it, the idea of Anna came to me. Actually, she didn't just come to me as an idea —she had soon moved into my head full time and wouldn't let me rest until the book had been written.