The Program by Suzanne Young
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’d been meaning to read The Program for a while and wow, thank goodness I finally read it. It was mysterious, emotional, intoxicating, and just pure “book crack.” I liked how it was a different kind of dystopian. What I consider to be a “normal” dystopian is a book loaded with action and the protagonist is usually rebelling against the people who control their society (not like this is a standard in what a dystopian book should look like, this is just usually see in dystopias); The Program was definitely not an average dystopian. This book was more of an emotional read rather than a action packed read. That’s what I really like about this book: Young didn’t need guns or dead people to keep me reading, the plot and characters had already done that for her.
The Program takes place in a society where the slightest sign of depression can cause you to end up in The Program, a place to erase these depressive and suicidal feelings. It may seem like the best thing ever, but people who return from The Program come back as different people. They may not even remember people they knew before The Program. This causes teenagers to try to avoid ending up in The Program at all costs.
Our main character, Sloane, is someone who has known quite a few people who have had to attend The Program or have committed suicide. I really liked Sloane because of how strong she after dealing with so many events that would have caused her to be thrown into The Program. That really made more engaged to the book because each day, there is a chance the handlers can take her away if there was any sign of depression. Let’s face it, you have your days where you just want to lay in bed and cry, and I feel as though Sloane goes through many days where she wants to do that, yet she is able to play a facade. She knows that if she wants to stay out of the Program she needs to pull off this facade and act happy. She knows exactly how to get around the handlers, the people who bring people to The Program. Whether it’s faking a smile or lying on her daily questionnaires- which asks questions regarding suicidal thoughts and such- Sloane knows what The Program does and knows that it’s bad enough to the point where she should try to avoid it. She definitely goes through a great amount of change by the end of the book. There were so many emotional events that happened and the causes a huge change and shift in her personality.
James, Sloane’s boyfriend, is Sloane’s outlet to what she believes is a messed up world. James, like Sloane, knows how to pretend and get around being thrown into The Program. I loved reading about James and Sloane’s love. It’s not everyday you can read about a dystopian couple that isn’t thrown out into an all out war the next day. Both Sloane and James come off to be very emotionally fragile people at times. Since they both have gone through so much together, they can rely on each other to cry with or cheer each other up. They are able to support each other when their lives get tough, and I just love that about them. Both of them are equally broken and scarred but can pick up each other’s pieces when needed.
What made this book so interesting that I finished it within a day? The plot; it was a glorious plot. It was so suspenseful and interesting to read about. Every event and small detail led straight up into the climax of this book and that made the plot even better. The Program was also a book that has “yet to be explored.” There are so many things I don’t know about the world and I had so many question like what it is like in The Program? Then there is the dying question of how our “perfect” word turned into the society The Program takes place in? What caused returners of the Program to seem like empty shells? These questions kept me reading and craving for more pages (Hence the fact this book is 400 pages). Some of my questions have been answered but some haven’t! That is now a worry, though I definitely expect them to be answered in the sequel. The one thing I can say about this book is that you definitely don’t expect a lot of what happens. There were so many plot twists and turns and a bucket load of feels: Sadness, happiness to the point where you wanted to cry, shock, and just utter “OMG.”
If you want a breathtaking dystopian novel what will give you so many feels, go with The Program. This book made me cry, laugh, and left me laying on the ground, trying to process the ending. It definitely was an emotional read so get your tissues ready. Its prequels and sequel is already out, so it’s easy to catch up without the wait! Young did a great job keeping me attached to the book, and the plot of The Program is just so damn interesting. (Also, I love the cover!!)