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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

Like books in Margaret Peterson Haddix's The Shadow Children series, Malley's gripping first novel imagines the ramifications of official population controls. Because a wonder drug prevents most deaths, the restriction in this dystopian England is especially severe: Signers of a special pact gained access to the drug but lost the right to procreate. Many regretful signers went on to bear illegal children, such as 14-year-old Surplus Anna, groomed from toddlerhood for a life of drudgery. Drawing a strong Jane Eyre flavor from the chilly, loveless facility where Anna learns how to make up for . . . existing in the first place,  the indoctrinated teen's awakening to massive injustice makes compulsive reading. The romance between Anna and another Surplus, actually a messenger from Anna's activist parents, is less involving, and the plot slips into soap opera at the sequel-ready conclusion. But Malley explores her premise along numerous fascinating lines, and the book will enjoy word-of-mouth popularity among teens whipped into a righteous fury over the notion of a world hijacked by selfish elders.--Mattson, Jennifer Copyright 2007 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

A futuristic adventure reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro's adult novel Never Let Me Go. Anna is a "Surplus," an illegally born child. In 2140, medical breakthroughs have enabled eternal life, so there is no room in the world for children. Those, like Anna, who are born illegally are raised in Surplus Halls, where they are taught how to "Know Their Place" and become "Valuable Assets." Anna is grateful for her home in the freezing cold Surplus Hall, for her tiny shares of bad food and for the teachers who give her the skills she will need after graduation when she will work in forced labor for "Legal People." But Anna's comfortable world of Knowing Her Place is disrupted when a new Surplus arrives, a boy named Peter who claims to bring messages from Anna's parents. Peter challenges everything Anna has ever believed about society, nature and morality. Anna's adventure is well worth reading; this unreliable narrator's faith in her tormentors is thought-provoking and deeply sad. (Science fiction. 11-13) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
It's the year 2140 and Anna shouldn't be alive. Nor should any of the children she lives with at Grange Hall. The facility is full of kids like her, kids whose parents chose to recklessly abuse Mother Nature and have children despite a law forbidding them from doing so as long as they took longevity drugs. To pay back her parents' debt to Mother Nature, Anna will have to work for the rest of her life. But then Peter appears at the hall, and he tells a very different story about the world outside of the Grange. Peter begs Anna to escape Grange Hall, and to claim a life for herself outside its bleak walls. But even if they get out, they still have to make their way to London, to Anna's parents, and to an underground movement that's determined to bring back children and rid the world of longevity drugs.
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