(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Series:
Published by Simon and Schuster on March 4th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Social Issues, Social Themes, Suicide, Young Adult
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.
It’s always a treat to step back into the world of young adult scifi. The possibilities are endless, and the premise for The Program is like nothing I’ve ever heard of. When I found out I would be going to ApollyCon, the amount of authors that I recognized meant a lot of luggage. I snatched up a copy of The Program, a book that I had eyed multiple times, and looked forward to getting it signed and meeting the author. I took the plunge and started reading it after a Facebook chat with the author in a book group and was so glad that I did.
The Program is not like anything I’ve read before. In this world, suicide is a nationwide epidemic. It’s contagious. Anyone below the age of eighteen is watched for signs of depression and possible suicidal behavior. Young took suicide and turned it on its axis. Instead of focusing on the main character simply being surrounded by this depression, she had no choice but to fall victim to it. It showed an inevitable weakness that made sense. Sloane Barlow didn’t hold back and tapped into the vulnerability that everyone faces at some point in life. She’s not just a character that teens can connect to but everyone.
It wasn’t an issue of the mind but of the society. The solution: The Program. An enigma that sat in the corners of Sloane’s mind, the unknown, then the knowing, and then I know more than the main character part will captivate you. Even though Sloane and her friends weren’t the only ones suffering, it felt personal, this world. And since the mind is about as personal as it gets, I loved it.
I liked the organization of the book. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect going into it. Young packed so much story into one book. The characters were relatable and real, their teenage issues mundane yet dramatized by the epidemic. The possibility of this being a reality was frightening and perfectly balanced. Each section of the book—which was broken into three parts—added more to the story. The tenuous structure of the mind intermingled with the set up of the novel and, even when the main character didn’t understand what had happened and what was going on, I was engrossed.
The romance between James and Sloane had my attention. At first, I didn’t know what to expect. Were they going to make it through, or would their relationship fail, a victim to the epidemic? I liked James, his snarky attitude and irresistible traits. However, my heart also tugged in the direction of Michael Realm. I didn’t know quite what to think about him, but I liked him, too (even when I probably shouldn’t have).
While mental illness is starting to get discussed more in contemporary fiction, I enjoyed seeing it in a different light. This world that is supposed to have it all together fell victim to something that society will never be able to escape. The Program does not just appeal to fans of scifi or young adult and is the perfect crossover read.