20 May 2013

{Book Review} The Program


The Program
The Program #1
Author: Suzanne Young
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 5 Birds

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.

When I think “Dystopian”, I think The Hunger Games. I think Divergent. I do not think THE PROGRAM. Why am I starting here? Well, I’ve notice an over abundance of Dystopian novels as of late, and it’s easy to get burnt out on a genre. I would HATE for you to skip over this book thinking “If I have to read one more dystopian novel I will volunteer as tribute…” THE PROGRAM, I’ve noticed, is being solely labeled as Dystopian in a lot of places – but I’m here to tell you – it’s more.

THE PROGRAM is, in my opinion, more of a Contemporary novel with dystopian tendencies. There is no collapsed world with the all controlling government. Instead you have a totally normal, every day world. Today’s world with cars, cell phones, MTV and all that and oh there’s that little thing called The Program that was created to stop the epidemic of teen suicide. The government isn’t even totally controlling that, in a lot of cases it’s the parents desperate for help, who turn in their own kids. 

Now that I have that out of the way, let’s get down to what I thought of the book. Simply put I loved it. Sure, it had it moments for me, a few downfalls I’ll touch on a few in a bit, but my overall thoughts were “Thank goodness, something new. Something different.”

Let’s start with the setting, which I mentioned earlier – it’s today. Literally this book could take place in 2013 and I fully believe it’s what makes the concept of The Program so horrifying. It’s not so far out in left field that it couldn’t happen in some way. Imagine if you were a teen – remember how hard and horrible it was? Ok, not imagine if you can’t show any negative feelings. You can’t cry, show excessive anger, complain or be defiant in anyway. Acting like that means you are sick, infected and will likely commit suicide. If you do show negative emotions, you will be flagged and taken off to The Program to be “cured”.

The concept of The Program is solid, interesting and a bit scary. It’s a solid foundation for the book to be built on. A few of the things that I didn’t really love was a bit of the character building. While Sloane and James are well rounded, likable and relatable. There’s a few characters who’s presence I wondered if they actually needed to be there, and in most cases they were dismissed rather quickly, never to be mentioned again. Though I do have a few theories about this – since The Program messes with your memory, are they really gone, or does Sloane just not remember them?

Young doesn’t dance around the concept of sex in this book. It’s there, it’s done, there’s no taboo about it. It’s a bit refreshing, that it’s not treated like the sick kid no one wants to sit next too. It’s happening in real life, it happens in the book.

All in all, I loved this book. I’m gripped tight by the world Young created and desperate for more. I’m only upset that I missed book club this week for family reasons, because I would have loved to sit around and talk about it with them. I do want to thank a blogger friend of mine, Jen from Fictitious Delicious, who was asked if our book club would like to read THE PROGRAM for our next book by Penguin. Thanks to her for sharing and for Penguin for the fantastic opportunity.

Find Suzanne Young



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