The Program by Suzanne Young
Expected Publication: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
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 ThoughtsOkay, I’ve put this off long enough, so I’m just going to power through this… See, I’ve struggled for over a couple of weeks putting into words what The Program is truly about. My hesitation lies with the possibility that when I say, …This book is about suicide, but it’s really not about suicide... someone will take that one statement and not only get irritated with my lacking analogy but also not give The Program a chance.
So allow me a few moments while I try to convince you not to make the same mistake I did. I put this book off for so long because of the subject matter. I mean, who gets excited about reading something so dismal when you can pick up a love story? That was my first error in judgment. This book is really good and it’s truly not just about depression and suicide, but more about hope.
The Program is quite unique in its own right. In the book, we learn about a society that faces a teen pandemic, where suicide rates are out of control and society has responded with an aggressive treatment strategy with The Program. There are handlers that keep their eye out for at-risk teenagers between the ages of 13 – 17, and at the first signs of depression, they enroll them in The Program that erases their memories and emotions. After the six weeks of treatment, they are carefully immersed back into society with a fresh start and a clean slate.
Brilliant right?!?! Not so much... Teenagers fear losing their memories and the emotions tied to friendships that are meaningful to them.
Sloane’s brother and best friend have both committed suicide and her friend Lucy is taken into The Program after attempting the QuickDeath. When her boyfriend James, who promised to never let them fall victim to The Program, is taken by the handlers, Sloane is left to fight, scheme and sacrifice to hold on to what’s hers.
Overall, The Program is about fighting society in an attempt to hold on to what’s yours… your memories, your emotions, and your feelings that make you - you. The writing is flawless, and the message is clear. If I had to sum up in one short statement what Suzanne Young is trying to convey, I’d have to say she was clear about sharing how important it is to not lose sight of who you are and what you cherish.
The concept is pretty severe; and like I said, it took me a while to get into the right frame of mind to jump into the book. But, once I read a few short chapters, I quickly experienced that “tell me more!” feeling. My only regret is that I feel this book would have made a magnificent stand-alone, but I understand that it’s part of a series. As much as I was awed by Young’s writing and impressed with her plot, I can’t see myself buying into the propaganda of “the story continues…” I appreciated my time with Young’s characters and I applaud her writing skills, but I can pretty much figure out the rest from here.
Overall, though, The Program is truly a story not to be missed. It may seem daunting, but not without a good serving of hope. Color me impressed!
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