Monday, August 19, 2013

The Program by Suzanne Young

The Program (The Program, #1)4 out of 5 Robots!

The Program by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Program #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
Release: April 30, 2013
Hardcover: 408 Pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book 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.

Shannon's Thoughts:
I'm going to date myself here, but does anyone remember that movie Disturbing Behavior?  No?  Just me?

Disturbing Behaviour (1998) Poster

Ok, well, this book reminded me a bit of this movie.  You don't like the way your kids are acting?  Fix them in a facility and turn them into Stepford Kids! 

Suicides a rising epidemic among teenagers and they are closely monitor by The Program for any warning signs of depression.  If they are flagged, they are taken for a 6 week rehabilitation.  The "returners" have no memory of their previous lives.  After Sloane's brother committed suicide, she has been very very careful to not get caught.  Her boyfriend James (who was also her brother's best friend) is instrumental in helping her keep it together until they reach 18 and are out of The Program's reach.  But when someone close to them commits suicide, their ability to hold on deteriorates.

As far as dystopians go, I'm not sure this offers a real fresh perspective.  You could swap the depression with anything else a government deems "bad" and then proceeds to handle very poorly.  Like Delirium where the government outlawed love, it doesn't make a lot of sense on paper.  But, The Program is executed well enough that I didn't have too much trouble moving past the premise. It does bother me a bit that The Program (and memory wiping) is the answer that the government came up with.  And that all the adults seem to be on board with it.

One thing I did really like was that the characters seem very real.  Sloane and James are not perfect by any means.  James especially bucks the YA boyfriend trend.  He can be sweet, sometimes a bit of an ass.  But he is devoted to Sloane.  At times it was really heartbreaking to watch Sloane try to hide her desperation, especially when James starts to slip away from her. 

On a larger level, I'm not sure where this series is going to go.  The ending leaves it pretty open ended.  Because of that, I will definitely be back to read the next installment.

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