by Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse
on April 30, 2013
Book summary from Goodreads: 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.Welcome to my new, end-of-year feature I Finally Read This!
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'm trying to make my 200 book Goodreads goal, and I'm going back to some books that I passed on as ARCs or immediately after publication. First, I will interview myself about why it took me so long to read this book:
- How Long Did it Take You to Read This Book: Over a year! I had a chance to get an ARC back in October 2012, but I passed on it.
- Why? I wasn't sure the book was for me. Dystopian fatigue. And I didn't love the cover.
- What Made You Change Your Mind? The book was getting great reviews!
My take: I enjoyed The Program from the first page to the last. I was immediately drawn into Sloane's world -- a world in which suicide has become a teen epidemic. As a result, teens are watched carefully for any sign of depression or unusual behavior. Sloane, whose beloved brother killed himself, is deemed at high risk. But Sloane has her boyfriend James and close friends Miller and Lacey, so she'll be okay. Or will she?
Before reading The Program, I thought the book was a straight dystopian, but now that I've read it, I'd call it more of a creepy medical thriller. And I don't think I've read many (any?) creepy YA medical thrillers, but I'm all for the idea now. The book's premise is that an oversupply and overuse of mood stabilizing drugs permanently changed the bio-chemical make-up of an entire generation of kids. As a result, these teens are more prone to suicide and need to be carefully monitored. At first, sending kids to the Program seems like a well-meaning way to help them, but it becomes pretty clear that is not the case at all. I'm still not sure what the real purpose of the Program is, but I'm curious to find out.
I loved the way that the book set up a gripping"Us vs. Them" paranoia between kids and adults. Which, if you think about it, is a perfect set-up for a YA book. The book also raised some very interesting philosophical issues raised about love and grief and memory. Could erasing a bereaved or depressed person's memories make them happy again, or are our memories what make us …. us? I thought a lot about these things as I was reading.