by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program #1
Published: 30 April 2013
Simon Pulse, Hardcover, 408 pages
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.
Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.
Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.
My first impression of The Program was how it shared some similar traits with the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver, which was one of my favorite trilogies. However, in this case, the epidemic was teenage suicide instead of love. I actually found this much more believable as we are constantly hearing more suicide stories these days. Moreover, the cover was so interesting, (I especially liked the colored pills on the back because they looked adorable. Yes, I’m weird like that.) I simply could not resist picking it up.
Moving on to the actual story, I would have enjoyed it much better had I not read so many amazing dystopians before. The plot was honestly very touching, emotional and inspiring. Sloane and James’s relationship was the perfect balance of fun & youthful combined with serious & though-provoking.
Throughout the book, be prepared to be enraged, and I mean seriously enraged, at everyone who supports the Program. I found myself wanting to mutilate every single Program supporter because it really infuriated me how the Program literally stripped away the very essence of a person by removing their memories. It hit me hard how our memories contribute a lot to us being who we are.
Admittedly, The Program isn’t suited for simply anyone. It’s pretty darn depressing and the first part of the novel could potentially plant suicidal thoughts in many readers’ mind. However, in the end, those suicidal notions would mostly be overshadowed by other themes like love, freedom and choice.
A poignant story filled with wonderful meanings, I would recommend The Program to anyone interested in strongly psychological reads. Just a tip though, reading this book when you’re not too busy would be best as much concentration must be invested to fully understand the beautiful underlying meanings incorporated by Suzanne Young.