May 28, 2013

YA Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

The Program
by Suzanne Young
Published April 30th 2013 by Simon Pulse
Source: Pulse It free read
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads summary: 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.

The Program is an intriguing and thought provoking first to a series that gave me all I wanted from it-romance, thrill and food for thought. I failed to completely connect with our main romantic couple, but in many ways I still consider it a great read. Given the heavy topic (suicides and depression oozing from the pages), I wasn't emotionally involved, and that is the only "negative" thing I have to say.

The Program has a great composition. It consists of three parts (before, during and after). The events in each accentuate a motif, a certain repetitiveness in the human nature that challenges the idea of the Program, to wipe out all potentially triggering memories. The dystopian streak is not that prominent. The Program is still in experimental phase, implemented in a small number of states. The focus of the story is the romance between Sloane and James, both in the high risk population. It's an interesting situation to watch the characters before and after the treatment and follow the train of their thoughts. The main idea is, even if all your memories were eradicated, would you make the same 'mistakes'? If most of your past were simply deleted, how much of you would there still be in you?

I was wondering all the time what would have to happen in the society to start such an avalanche of depression and suicide. Then there's the Program itself. While it's easy to adopt the characters' negative attitude toward it, Suzanne Young also gives you enough footage to see the upside of it. As a mother I had to ask myself what I would want for my child. Where is the morality of it if the patients have absolutely no choice? Is a clean and fresh start that horrifying an alternative to suicide? Is the cost of keeping your children alive living with barely more than a shell of its former self worth it? Read it and decide for yourself.

The Program raises a lot of questions, but ends on a hopeful and promising note, especially considering the epilogue. The same character that at some point I thought was cheesy soars to heroic proportions, and I cannot wait to read more.
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