The Program by Suzanne Young.
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.
Thoughts: I had been looking forward to this book for a while, I had also heard that it was good from several reviewers...turns out they were totally right!!In Sloane's world teen suicide is an epidemic sweeping through teenagers. There are monitored high schools with quizzes daily about how a teen is feeling. Had someone close to them committed suicide? Yes in Sloane's case. Her brother had. Her whole world hurt then. The only reason she got through was James. Then when her best friend became depressed it was almost worst. Because now she's back from the Program. And she doesn't remember them. Her friends. Her boyfriend. All gone. Because that is what the Program does to a person.
The Program wipes out the teen's memories in hopes of blocking out the pain. They let the kids start afresh and monitor them for relapses. No one knows exactly what happens in the Program though. Not really. Sloane's school is being monitored and the pressure to be happy and fine weigh in on her. Depression and hurt seem to be rolling in on all sides. James is all she has now. He helped her through her brother's death. He tried to be strong. But now? He's been having trouble...he's been in trouble for a while now and she doesn't know how long she can help him. He made her a promise, that he would keep them out of the Program. But he wasn't able to keep that promise. Now Sloane herself faces to Program. What will she come out as? What will they do to her?
Pros: The world the author built. I could totally believe it. All of it. And it wasn't dying exactly...it wasn't crumbling away and all dark and gloomy. It was rather like the cover. Sterile and shocking at times. While I don't exactly understand how suicide could be contagious...other than, you know, a person being obviously and naturally being depressed after a friend's death. Anyway while I didn't get the "spreading" part I could totally get how serious it was. Like super serious. Teen dying and really, while the Program (yucko) tried to help out they were really increasing suicide a lot of times, I thought. The parents too. All that pressure. Anyway, in the science fiction-y world building way, this book rocked!!!
Emotionally too. I totally felt Sloane's pain and I was mentally screaming in several scenes just wanting the hurting to stop for her :( It's a sad story in some ways...but don't worry it does have a happy ending! Haha. Anyway, I really liked Sloane. She was so super loyal to her friends and she was real. She wasn't going to be a total Katniss Everdeen she was going to be herself. And I liked that. Her backstory was really gorgeous and I was smiling when I heard the pieces and saw them fitting together...(view spoiler) James was so super sweet and I loved the idea of his tatoos. At first (the first chapters) I didn't know if he was really caring...but wow. He really loves her. And it shows through so many of his actions. I figured before starting this book that they would be put in together, whoever they were. Then I read the back and actually started reading. Then I thought that one of them would be put into The Program. And then a little ways in I wasn't so sure. So not only are the characters believable and well expressed but the plot is taunting and unpredictable...in a good way. And it's a very thrilling book. When you go through what is happening it doesn't sound that exciting...but the way it's written? It is very exciting. I couldn't (and didn't want to) put it down.
Cons:There was some content I wasn't fond of, but I didn't mind. The rest of the book made up for it. I can't think of anything, any complaint other than if the author doesn't write a sequel I will be so mad... The ending was...evil. It left you hanging with a hint of what could happen next. And I desperately want to know what that is.
Content wise there were 95 cuss words (two were f). Mention several times of having sex and sexual lusts. There are 2-3 sex scenes that are brief and barely described ("like fire" and the other time skipped over). There is some kissing and also a guard/handler in the program who rapes or "helps" the girls in the program out but in return asks for something. Talking of suicide and also several suicides and attempts. The stealing of memories.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. It's a wonderful, different dystopian and was very well written and it was so much fun to read. Seriously. I enjoyed it bunches! I would recommend to dystopian fans, girls 15-16+. This is a great YA dystopian, seriously pick it up! It's one of the top 5 books I've read this year. Easily.
Rating: 5 stars.