Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Publication date: 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.
Part I, first sentence: The air in the room tastes sterile.
Imagine the rate of teen suicides exponentially increasing. The government frantically tries to tame it down by forcing teens to go through a special kind of therapy. This therapy wipes away your past. You know a few key things, but most of your past is declared "harmful" because, hey, you were sick. All of it had to contribute somehow, right? But before you get to that point, you have the hanging threat of being dragged away by handlers, foreboding men in white suits who keep an eye out every day. You have to do a checklist at school every day, asking if you feel lonely or if someone close to you has committed suicide. If that's not enough, you basically have to hide every negative feeling inside, big or small, and never ever have a rough day. Anything can get you flagged.
Oh, your parents can't be trusted either because they'll
sometimes always call The Program themselves to "make you feel better." You can't even stay mad at them for betraying you either because you'll come back with no knowledge of what happened, just that you were "sick" and now you're "better."
After her brother Brady killed himself, Sloane and his best friend (also her boyfriend) James have supported each other, promising that they won't allow either of them to go into The Program or commit suicide. Usually if a couple acted all "you're my everything, I love you forever and ever, I can't live without you, be with me, etc." I would be wanting to spit at the book. However, this isn't a regular relationship in a regular setting. I hate codependant relationships, but there was a need for this one. Who else could they trust? Without the other one there, their horrible home lives, the lurking doom of The Program, and the rising depression, what do they have to live for? Oddly enough, while I appreciated their relationship, I wasn't the biggest fan of James. I liked him at points, but he definitely didn't woo me.
I wish I could say when everything really starts to unravel, but that would probably be considered a semi-spoiler. I was expecting it, but was still a bit surprised when it did happened. It's when you watch a show/movie and you know something will pop out or you know that the wrong person will walk in, but your heart still constricts when it does.
Part II, first sentence: I slowly look to my side, my vision a bit blurry as I wake.
As expected, Sloane is put into The Program. There, we encounter many suspicions. We have creepy Roger, who I wanted to stab with a needle. Loony Tabitha, who I'm still confused about. The nurses and doctors, the typical bad people that seriously make me wonder how anybody can think that the bad thing they're doing is actually the right thing. Then Realm, the cute mysterious boy, who I can't say much about.
I never once felt at peace while Sloane was in The Program (can I just say that I hate having to capitalize both of those words? The should not be capitalized!), which was the point. Some people might disagree, but I thought the story picked up while she was in there. She had to go through the horrible journey of losing her memory, but we also got flashbacks of her old life with James or Brody. Questions and danger surrounded her constantly.
Part III, first sentence: I had trouble sleeping the first night home.
I can't say almost anything about the end, of course. However, I do have to say that the whole concept of losing your memory terrifies me. Not remembering key things when I'm older terrifies me, so how much worse would I feel at not remembering my own life as a teenager? Probably much worse. You don't remember who you are, what you did, or anything about yourself. The only thing you do have is what your parents and The Program tells you, which you can bet are lies.
They mentioned it a couple times, but what I thought was aggravating was the fact that it seemed like more suicides were happening because of The Program. Teenagers didn't want their lives stripped away from them, understandably, so they would rather die instead. And the reason they get depressed is either because someone close to them lost their memory in The Program, someone close to them committed suicide rather than go into The Program, or depression is so hyped up by the government that they think they are infected. How do the officials not see that?
Yes, I know this is fiction.
The ending is how I thought it would play out, but I'm not displeased that I guessed it. In the beginning, I wasn't crazy for the book. My expectations started to wither, but it gradually got better until I couldn't stop reading it.
Verdict: A fantastic futuristic novel that made me think and be invested into the story.
Have you read it? What were your thoughts on it? And what do you think of your memory being wiped clean?