by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program (#1)
Publication: Simon Pulse on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback, 405 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Mental Illness, Dystopia, Romance
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 settling in.
When I took a visit to Barnes and Noble the other day, The Program Series by Suzanne Young was being heavily advertised on shelves. As I now know, her second book in the series, The Treatment, had just been released in paperback the previous month. I, however, did not read the first book, The Program, and so, wanting to judge the book for myself, bought a copy to take home.
By now, I'm sure the majority of you YA book lovers have already read this book. For those like me who haven't, hopefully my book review will be able to help you decide for yourself whether or not you want to add The Program to your shelf.
I think what makes prospective readers a bit hesitant to pick up The Program is due to the fact that the storyline circles around depression. I for one, didn't necessarily want to immerse myself in a depressed dystopian society for a couple of hours.
Be prepared: this book is no "buttercream roses and pink frosting," so do take heed from the jacket copy. The world Sloane lives in is sickeningly flawed and absolutely terrifying. Though the text may be quite disturbing at times, the storyline always keeps readers captivated and absorbed. And if you're one of those hesitant to pick up your own copy, I say just go for it. You'll be continually engrossed.
Something about the plot that was a bit different from the norm in YA novels was the romance factor. Unlike the majority of YA novels in which a vital part of the storyline is about meeting someone and falling in love, from page one in The Program, Sloane is already wholly in love with James. This only makes the book all the more despairing when both Sloane and James are thrown into The Program themselves, and for this reason, I felt it worked well for the storyline.
The reader goes on a frightening emotional roller coaster with Sloane as she tries in all her capability to fight against "the cure." As the story goes on, the reader is slowly exposed to memory after memory of Sloane's, and though James is not present during Sloane's "treatment," the reader fully falls in love with him through her memory. What's quite ironic about this, is that while the reader is gaining Sloane's memories, she is gradually losing them one by one.
All in all? Read The Program. The plot is riveting, the characters and their relationships are spun together skillfully, and though the story revolves around depression, the "darkness" only helps to emphasize the "light" and to spark hope in the reader.
Now having read The Program, I have still to determine whether I want to pursue the next installment in the series, The Treatment. As much as I enjoyed this first book, I have my reservations about continuing on to book two.