Author: Suzanne Young
Series: The Program, #1
Teen suicide has become a world-wide epidemic. Panic has set in for the adults witnessing the death of so many young people. In an effort to stop the infection, The Program has been implemented for those under eighteen showing signs of depression. But those who return from The Program are a shell of their former selves, having their memories wiped clean.
Sloane struggles to stay afloat in a world where a single tear can send her straight into The Program. Her brother, the most important anchor in her life, has committed suicide and she clings to her boyfriend James, who does everything he can to keep them both safe. But when they lose one of their best friends, the tenuous grip they have on their emotions begins to unravel.
“‘In the past day have you felt lonely or overwhelmed?’
I stare down at the bright white paper, the same one that waits at our desks every morning. I want to crumple it into a ball and throw it across the room, scream for people to acknowledge what just happened to Kendra. Instead I take a deep breath and answer.
This isn’t true…But I know the routine. I know what a wrong answer can do.”
The Program is terrifying in its ramifications and realism. It isn’t a too far-fetched concept because I’m willing to bet that many would see The Program as a ‘the end justifies the means’ sort of situation. But life is not made up of roses and rainbows, and if it is, we have to remind ourselves that those roses have thorns and those rainbows are only possible with a bit of rain. Most people would say that everyone has the right to be happy, but perhaps we are forgetting that we have the right to be sad as well. It’s a frightening concept to have to hide your grief and I felt every agonizing moment when Sloane felt she was going to break.
Sloane’s boyfriend James has put it upon himself to keep everyone safe. He is a sharp example that the more you hold on to things, the bigger the boom when you explode. As a reader I found his strength to be admirable, but at the same time extremely fragile. The boy could be hot and cold at times which for me was a little off-putting, but I could see how important the relationship between him and Sloane was for both their stakes. At one point someone refers to their relationship as co-dependency and it really did feel like that in the beginning, which is not my favorite kind of relationship because I think it’s really important for two people to know who they are apart from one another.
Sloane proves herself to be a tenacious protagonist as the story progresses. She is defiant and even though you knew the ramifications were going to be painful, as a reader you cheered for her. I felt every high and low she experienced and by the time I finished The Program, I was seriously exhausted. Sloane had to make some impossible choices to hold on to herself that I’m not even sure I’d be brave enough to make.
Reading The Program was like watching the timer on a bomb slowly count down and I’m really looking forward to its sequel.