Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: Dystopia, romance, YA
Series? Yes – #1 of The Program series
Publisher: Simon Pulse (2013)
Rating: 5/6 – I loved it!
Synopsis from cover: 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’ve 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 Initial Thoughts/Rambling: I love me some solid dystopia, and I wasn’t disappointed with this one! I heard about it a few weeks ago, and it’s been on the top of my wishlist since then. I finally had the extra cash, so I drove myself to Barnes and Noble, plunked down the $18, and sat at Starbucks for an hour and read half of the book. If you remember my rambling from this post, you’ll know I must have really wanted the book if I bought it in hardback instead of waiting for paperback.
What did I think about the characters? The best part about this book was the fact that James and Sloane were already established as being in a relationship: we didn’t have to waste 100 pages getting to their “I love you” moment. With a pre-established romance, I fell in love with these characters in an instant. They’re perfect complements to each other, but are solid characters on their own as well. Sloane, at times, can be a bit whiny, and cries a lot, but she pulls it together in the second half of the book and actually starts looking past her own issues and looking to help her friends.
And the concept and plot? Concept: A+ on this one! The idea that suicide is an contagious epidemic is intriguing, to say the least. However: if (in this version of society) suicide and depression is a tangible and spreadable illness like a cold (I’m ignoring my personal opinions on this topic and writing as if that fact was true), why can’t they identify what causes it? I mean, they have pills that can target and erase your memories. It’s a bit of a stretch for me to imagine that they can create that, but not identify a trigger for depression and suicide. I would have liked a bit more world-building, because the whole book is confined to the school, The Program, or the river.
Plot: While it took a different turn than I was expecting, I was along for the ride the whole way! It was fast-paced and thrilling, never slowing or meandering through useless territory. Every page counted, and I enjoyed it from cover to cover.
What about the writing style? One word for you: compelling. Young has a way of sucking you in and gripping you even after the final page is finished.
Anything else you’d like to add? I think I might have screeched a bit at the cliff-hanger ending. When I bought the book, I had no idea it would be a series, so you can imagine my surprise! And this book just came out in April too… It’s going to be a long wait. I’ll definitely be buying the next one, and probably other books from this author as well!