Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
Published: April 30th, 2013
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.
"I stand there, clutching my arm and feeling helpless. I'm so violated, so angry, that I think I might completely lose it right now."
The Program left me in a puddle of my own feels. I read the book for hours without being able to put it down. At first it's a little slow, true, but it starts to pick up real quick once the bodies start dropping. The Program is so heartbreaking, so honest, that every word just cuts into your soul. I was not expecting what I got, but I am glad I took the leap. The cover may not be the best attention getter, and the premise may sound like a downer (Depression! Oppression! The horror!), but it all comes together once you start reading.
Sloane lives in a world where she needs to be constantly vigilant. If she shows the slightest bit of what can be considered negative emotion she would be in danger of being sent to The Program. The Program is the government's answer to the high number of teen suicide, no one knows who is causing it but they are trying to lower the number. Their answer? Get all the teens corralled, and erase everything that make them depressed enough to kill themselves. Erased everything that makes them, them.
Sloane can't trust anybody, not her classmates, not her teachers, and more importantly not her parents. Ever since her brother killed himself, her parents have been more on edge than ever. The slightest hint of depression and she will be shipped out to The Program. The only people she can trust are her closest friends (Miller), and the love of her live, James. Before long however, they are infected too, and Sloane's world will spiral out of control. Nowhere, and no one, is safe from the epidemic, not even Sloane.
In a strange way The Program with its cure for suicide reminded me of Delirium with its cure for love, because in its center both "diseases" have to do with strong emotions that make you fall over the edge. It was fascinating to see the world Suzanne Young creates for us, a world where in order to survive with your memories intact you must act like you are okay 24/7. It is specially fascinating when it comes to teenagers, with the hormonal imbalance and all, because in this raw age you feel so strongly, as if you are experiencing everything for the first and the last time.
The characters in this book are strong as heck. Sloane and James go through so much crap, and come outta the other side a broken mess but strong enough to take it. Sloane is a fighter, but she is of course human. No special abilities to withstand what they do to her. She feels strongly, and sometimes she may feel like she wants to give in, but she never does. It makes you wonder how you would do in her impossible situation.
James as well, though we don't get to see things from his perspective I think we get a very good idea of who he is from Sloane. They are in love, like truly in love. At first it's a downer that they are already together when the book starts, but you get to see how their relationship came to be through flashes. I actually liked it better this way, made more sense when it comes to the story. I loved them together madly, and then they are ripped apart and both of their souls crushed and reshaped...
Let's just say that in various parts of the book I was left feeling like this:
At the end I was left with a lot of questions about the Program, and the epidemic on itself. What is causing it? It is mother nature taking it's course? Or is someone, or something, causing the suicide rate to sky rocket? Chemicals perhaps? I don't know, but I am dying to find out. Bring in the next one already! The Program is an enjoyable read, with great characters and an unique (maybe really possible?) premise. Just... be sure to keep some tissues close by when reading. The program is bound to reach into your soul and squeeze tears out in any way it can. Enjoy!