Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review: The Program

The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Published: April 30, 2013
408 pages
3 Gold Stars

(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.

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.

Parts of this novel make complete sense and make me think that a suicide epidemic could be something we face in the future, but most of it seemed unrealistic. It is the complete opposite of Delirium, where teenagers are not allowed to be sad, or cry, or show any emotion that could lead to suicide. If they do, they will be sent to the Program, where their memories of things that depressed them will be washed away and they will be sent back into the world anew. This part made sense to me, the brainwashing and memory loss to have control over the teenagers in the city, but there was a lot that didn't.

Sloane's older brother committed suicide and her and her boyfriend, James, have been trying to heal without getting put into the Program. They protect each other and comfort each other in private, and right from the start, you knew they were doomed. When their other friend kills himself, the handlers pay much closer attention to them, and there may be no escaping the Program this time. 

I don't want to say much about the plot because to me it was unpredictable, at least until later on into the book. This is ultimately a love story trying to survive in a world where teenage love can lead to depression. Well, that's in any world, but in this world it's monitored. The emotions feel real and anyone who has lost someone to suicide would know how hard it is to put yourself back together after that happens. And it's not any better when they end up coming back without their memories of you and you're alone either way. The teens know better than to want to go to the Program because they know what happens to the returners, but the adults just see it as a way to cure their children and therefore they call the Program if they think their kids are suicidal. The premise is interesting but at the same time, there is such a fine line between suicide being a disease and this novel making light of a serious situation. Thankfully I've never had any feelings of suicide, nor do I know anyone who's killed themselves, so I can take this book as fiction and leave it at that, but I know those who have experienced this first hand may have different opinions. 

It's a unique dystopian that will stand out from the rest with a world we have not seen before, but I don't think it's strong enough to become a series, though what books aren't series now a days? Sloane and James are meant to be together and they prove that nothing can stop them, even the Program and I like that theme because true love is stronger than those who wish to tear it apart. Though I think this book would work better as a contemporary, focusing solely on their relationship. Having a more thought provoking plot and treating suicide like the mental health issue it is, would make a much bigger impact. It's too bad that the suicide comes off as more of a gimmicky plot to create a new dystopian world. I'm not sure if I'll be picking up anymore in this series, we'll see when the time comes. 

“...some things are better left in the past. And true things are destined to repeat themselves.” 

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