The Legacy by Gemma Malley

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The Legacy by Gemma Malley

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Immensely satisfying conclusion to this dystopian trilogy about immortality. Accessible but literary too, it's both exciting and highly intelligent. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408800896

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Longevity isn't working. The drug that prolongs life expectancy indefinitely appears to have reached its own life expectancy. A terrible virus is wreaking havoc across Britain and the sluggish immune systems of the Legals simply can't cope. Consumed by a desperate thirst, they're dying horrible deaths, leaving behind shrivelled and desiccated corpses. It's Richard Pinsent's worst nightmare. Not that Richard cares about people dying, of course. All Richard Pinsent cares about is his own immortality and the power Longevity brings him. But he always feared this would happen - he killed Longevity's inventor, Albert Fern, with only a sample of the drug to work from. He's never had the formula.

So he hides the corpses. He lies to the Authorities. He accuses the Underground of contaminating Longevity in a terrorist attack. And he tries to find the formula.

Standing against him are Anna and Peter, Jude and Sheila, and Pip and the Underground. And nature.

This is the final volume in Gemma Malley's wonderful trilogy, set in a speculative future Britain in which death and children have both been banished. The Declaration told of the dreadful conditions in which children born illegally are forced to live in this brave new world of immortality. Reviled and ill-treated, Surpluses are brainwashed into believing they are worthless wastes of resources. In The Resistance, Anna and her rescuer Peter infiltrate Pinsent Pharma and discover the horrific lengths to which Richard Pinsent will go to preserve his wonder drug. And in The Legacy, we arrive at the end game.

Can people live forever? Should people live forever? This is the series' central question, but Malley throws up all sorts of extra ethical dilemmas. What sort of government should we have? Are we always just one step away from mob rule? Can it be right to sacrifice the many for the few? And if it doesn't look like Longevity, how will a future world of increasing population but dwindling resources look? Malley doesn't give any easy answers, but she does give a great deal of pause for thought.

And yet it's never heavy-going. It's immediate, vivid and tense, and peopled with fallible central characters that you can root for. It's complex and literary, but accessible and direct, and never pretentious. I have loved this series, and The Legacy was a tremendously satisfying close. Highly recommended.

My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

If they want ethical dilemmas, then try Replica by Jack Heath. If dystopian fiction is their thing, they might also enjoy Lifegame by Alison Allen-Gray, which features Fella in an orphanage that isn't all that it seems. I think they'd also like The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake and the undersea world of Dark Life by Kat Falls.

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