If the chance to live forever came with a price, would you opt in or out?
It depends on the price, of course. In this book, the price is “no children.” The world’s resources are stretched to the limit in providing for all of the people who “opt in” to take Longevity, a drug that prolongs life indefinitely. There’s no room and there are no resources for children. Children who are born illegally to parents who have signed The Declaration, agreeing not to reproduce, are called Surpluses, and they have no rights, not even a right to life.
Anna is a Surplus. She doesn’t even have a surname, just Surplus Anna. Her purpose in life, if Surpluses can even have a purpose, is to learn to serve Legals, to become a Valuable Asset doing housework, yardwork, and and any other services that Legals disdain but need to have performed. She must serve in order to pay back society and Mother Nature for the unfortunate accident of her birth, for the drain she is on the Earth and its legal inhabitants.
The story reminded me of both P.D. James’s Children of Men (Semicolon review here) and of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s series that begins with Among the Hidden (Semicolon review here). I think these books constitute a fascinating sub-genre of dystopian novels with the theme of a world without children, or a world where certain children are illegal and unwanted. The fascination, for me, lies partly in the fact that these novels are deeply pro-life. In The Declaration, the “good guys” say things like “every life is valuable” and “there is no such thing as a Surplus.” In Children of Men, a world without any children is a dying world full of desperate people looking for meaning and finding none. In Among the Hidden the Shadow Children are, again, shown to be worthy people with a right to live and with gifts that the world needs. I think it’s encouraging to see a pro-life message like this embedded in popular, well-written fiction.
Do you know of other novels that would fit into this list?
Dystopian Novels With Pro-Life Themes
1. Children of Men by P.D. James
2. Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
3. The Declaration by Gemma Malley
4. Unwind by Neal Shusterman. (I found this one with a google search and added it to my TBR list. The description is intriguing.)
There’s a sequel to The Declaration, called The Resistance, coming out in September, 2008.
Oh, I found this list while googling, too: Gemma Malley’s top10 Dystopian Novels for Teenagers