The Program by Suzanne Young
Release Date – April 30, 2013
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**obtained for review from publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.The Program is at once both a thoughtful look at suicide, and mental illness, and it's also a commentary on the pharmaceutical industry itself. The story was both achingly honest, and filled with gripping moments. It’s a story that surprised me with the depths in which it made me feel. The romance made me fall under it’s spell, and it’s insightful premise left me with much to ponder.
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.
The romance between Sloane and James is realistic, and so raw. They are both there for each other when needed. They are each other’s rock, and someone to lean on when they feel the tide swell up. In this uncertain, scary epidemic they are a light that keeps the darkness away. I think many readers will fall for James right along with Sloane.
Sloane is a perfect narrator for this type of story. An average teenager dealing with the loss of her brother, and the emotional turmoil that is being a teenager. She's much stronger than even she gives herself credit for.
Roger is one of the most vile, disgusting characters I’ve encountered in a novel. Completely infuriating, I wanted to so badly inflict harm on him. I felt his greasy, slimy demeanor was handled masterfully, and his character does certainly have a place in the story.
Realm is a charismatic guy Sloane meets while in The Program. I left the novel not really sure how I felt about him, and his place in Sloane's life. I think he'll be a major player in what's to come. He's certainly charming, and takes care of Sloane when she's at her most vulnerable.
Emotions are the most dangerous thing in Sloane’s world. The littlest thing can get you flagged and sent to The Program. Paranoia is running rampant, and parents are desperate to save their children from this epidemic. Part of life is experiencing the ups and downs. Feeling all of these emotions is one of the most beautiful parts about being human. While I absolutely think some people require help in dealing with things and there are severe illnesses out there, I felt The Program shows what happens when you take it too far. The ability to mourn, and feel emotions you need to in order to say goodbye to someone you love. The ability to feel the heartbreak of breaking up with someone. These are all strong, and sad emotions, but having them can actually help you heal. The Program takes this away. It also takes the highs as well - the rush of new love, the joy of a new birth.We need to experience both and sometimes we forget how strong the human brain really is.
The use of pills in this novel was a nice commentary on how dangerous relying on them alone can be. Treatment should be more than medication as using it by itself may not treat the underlying issue. It combined with other treatments could be more successful in helping those who need it. I know there is much discussion about whether or not doctors over prescribe pills in some countries, but this novel takes a hard look at some of the negative and positive aspects of this aspect of treatment.
The novel left me with a desire to know more about the suicide epidemic that appears to be growing. I want to know how and when it started. The details are vague and I am hoping the next book will clear up some of the questions. I am anxious to learn more about The Program itself as well, as the novel left a clear indication that there is more going on underneath it's already sinister surface.
The ending leads up to what may be a different direction for the next novels. The Program may remove memories, but the emotions behind them linger. It gives me hope for these characters and the potential futures, however, it’s obvious the fight is far from over.
A heart touching, approach to metal health and suicide where every emotion is dangerous. A novel that will hopefully get discussions going, and left just enough to tease you with to come back for more.