Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

June 21, 2013 3 - 3.5 Stars, Memory Loss, Science Fiction, Suicide, Suzanne Young 5 ★★★½

The Program by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program # 1
Published by Simon Pulse on April 30, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 405
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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.
Suzanne Young tackles the topic of teenage suicide in an interesting way.  What if there was a pill that could wipe out the depressing thoughts and memories that lead to suicide?  Would parents fearful of losing their children to suicide be willing to have the children’s memories wiped clean?  In order to buy into The Program, I had to set aside some beliefs and/or known facts about depression and suicide.  For instance: People who are prone to depression may have biological issues that have nothing to do with unpleasant memories.  Taking away the “bad” memories does nothing to keep new bad memories from forming.  Without correcting the underlying issue, wouldn’t these people simply continue to be depressed?  Wouldn’t that negate the whole purpose of The Program?  And isn’t it possible that the very existence of The Program might cause emotions including fear, mistrust, and depression?

I also needed to set aside the disbelief that a society would tolerate this virtual lobotomizing of its children.  Once I did, I was able to sit back and enjoy the story.  The plot was more fun than the characters.  Sloane, in particular, is not especially memorable. (Pun intended.)  But I liked the risks Young took.  I kept thinking, “Will she REALLY make her characters forget each other?”  While the actions of the adults didn’t always make sense, I did think it was believable that the teens who had relationships with each other prior to their procedures would find a way to connect with each other afterwards.  It wasn’t surprising at all when this begins to happen, and yet, I was still excited every time Sloane unwittingly discovered someone from her past, and I continued to root for her as she slowly unraveled the conspiracies around her.

Note – I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review posted at Goodreads.


5 Responses to “Review: The Program by Suzanne Young”

  1. Kim

    I want to read this book a lot. I’m partial to female characters named Sloane, is that weird? I understand the basic problems you have to the plot. It’s usually a chemical in-balance and not bad memories that lead certain people to that path. It’s nice that you were still excited and enjoying it, even with problems. Great review!

  2. Bookworm1858

    Love the way you phrased this: “I also needed to set aside the disbelief that a society would tolerate this virtual lobotomizing of its children.” I could not set that aside and it hung over my head, bothering me so so much!

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