The Declaration, chapter 12

I am going to leave Grange Hall.

Peter and I are going to run away through a tunnel in Solitary.”

It’s taken twelve chapters, but Anna is finally on board with Peter’s plan. Before they go, though, she’s going to write down all their plans in her diary. What could possibly go wrong?

Anna has finally realised that Evil Mrs Pincent is definitely evil, and that she doesn’t think much of Anna. Mind you, I don’t think much of Anna either. She’s certainly not smart enough not to write down exactly what they’re going to do, which is to escape through a loose grate in Solitary and head to London to find Anna’s parents.

I trust Peter. Peter’s my friend.”

Yet we never saw this friendship develop on the page. One minute she thought Peter was annoying and wished he would go away, and the next they were suddenly friends. I guess Anna just imprints easily on people.

Peter’s amazing. He knows everything about everything.”

As I was saying, it doesn’t take much.

Now, I get that Anna would be pretty naive, given that she’s lived in Grange Hall since forever and basically has to rely on whatever anyone else tells her about the outside world, but was it really the author’s intent to portray her as an idiot? The vibe I’m getting right now is that Anna, the main girl, is pretty stupid, but Peter, as a boy, is the smart, clever and resourceful one. I’m not saying every female character ever has to be strong and amazing, but come on. This is a world where girls are catty and bitchy towards each other, menstruation is a sin, and none of the main female characters are likeable. Then again, with regards to that last point, is there anyone in this book who is at all likeable? I guess I don’t have much of an issue with Mrs Sharpe, but I don’t think I’d get on with her ingrained attitudes towards Surpluses.

Having laid out their plans in print, Anna decides to write a bit about Peter’s backstory, because that’s clearly the most natural way for the reader to learn about it. I’m not sure a massive conversation between Anna and Peter would have been much better, but I feel like it would have represented marginally more authorial effort than “Anna decides to write it all down”. Anyway, it turns out that Peter was abandoned by his biological parents, and then passed around various other families, getting caught, and finally being rescued by Anna’s parents. So he thinks Anna’s parents are amazing, and reckon they would be even more loving towards their biological daughter.

The Catchers found it, even though he’d hidden it in his mouth.”

Silly Peter. You should have hidden it up your arse.

After she’s finished writing down how amazing Peter is and how they’re going to live together and go to the desert, Anna falls asleep. She awakens to a third-person view with just thirty minutes to go before it’s time to get up.

Being caught with a journal that clearly described their plans for escape was a pretty stupid idea.”

If you just heard an alarm bell go off in your mind, congratulations – you are able to identify simple plot devices. I’m in two minds about whether to berate Anna for this – I mean, clearly it’s a pretty stupid thing to write down all your secrets in such a controlled environment, but at the same time, Anna’s a teenager, and teenagers often like to keep diaries. Besides, for her it’s a novelty that she previously wasn’t allowed.

Everyone seems to be asleep, so Anna decides everything’s probably fine, but we know better- especially as it’s time for a perspective shift! I hesitate to hold up Harry Potter as an exemplar, but remember how JK Rowling didn’t have to suddenly write paragraphs from Snape’s perspective to let us know there was more going on than what the protagonist experienced? Well, unfortunately, we don’t get the same level of skill or assumed reader intelligence here. So instead, the chapter rounds off with a page from the perspective of anti-heroine Sheila.

And guess what? Sheila woke up during the night and saw Anna head off to her super secret bathroom. So now Sheila takes the opportunity to sneak out to that bathroom and find the diary with all the plans! I wonder what could possibly happen next…

It’s back: Capitalised Word Count

Not including proper nouns, of course

  • Solitary
  • Catchers
  • Outside
  • Prefect
  • Valuable Asset
  • Useful
  • Underground Movement
  • Adopted
  • Mistake
  • Central Administrators – they sound shadowy and evil

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