Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Program by Suzanne Young Review

The Program by Suzanne Young
Published: 2013
Genre: Dystopian


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.


The Program is a book that I’d been wanting to read for quite a while now.  It was different from what I thought it would be, but in a good way. 

The premise of this book is really intriguing and what initially drew me to the Program.  The idea of suicide being considered an “epidemic” and this government putting a program in place to counteract that was intriguing to me.  But, as we see more about this program you realize how terrible it is.  The teenagers are really being oppressed, living under constant fear of being taken away.  This in itself is a source of stress and anxiety.   I feel like the “program” is really ineffective, not in just what we find out about later on, but just based on the fear and stress that it causes in people. 

In this messed-up world, teenagers live in constant fear of letting their emotions show or crying in general.  For fear that they will be seen or found out and dragged away to the program.  They are being forced to suppress their emotions, which is what I feel results in the majority of the cases of depression in this book.  It isn’t good for anyone to suppress their emotions, and this fear of letting that show is what is causing the “epidemic” to spread so rapidly, I feel.   If you’re sad, or angry, or frustrated, you should be able to express that and be able to talk about that with people.  Instead, you have to bottle up those emotions and hide them –even from your parents- until you finally explode. 

In school, they are made to fill out these evaluations every day that asks questions like “In the past day, have you felt lonely or overwhelmed?”  That’s so completely ridiculous because who doesn’t feel overwhelmed at times?  We’re all human, and that’s a normal feeling to have once in a while.  I’m the most stable person I know, and I’d still check ‘yes’ to that at least 50% of the time.  I mean, these kids are in high school, you expect them to not feel overwhelmed ever at all? 

As far as the characters go, I really liked both Sloane and James.  We get so much development and build up for both of these characters and become attached to them.  Reading this book almost always physically hurt me.  It made me sad, it made me angry.  I felt what Sloane and James did and was hit with such a sense of wrongness about the whole situation.  They’ve both been through so much, and their each other’s only lifeline.  Without each other, I don’t know where they’d be.  Seeing them going through these things was painful and there were many times I felt so panicky because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them. 

This was a difficult book to rate.  The Program made me sad and angry and miserable and everything felt unfair.  But, at the same time, The Program deserves a round of applause for invoking the deep feelings that it did.  It connects you so deeply to these characters and it’s really amazing.  I love books that can make me feel all the things, but this was intense even for me.  It made me really think about things and analyze what was wrong with this society and I love books that I can get something deeper from.  


In Short:
Overall, I would definitely recommend The Program.  It was so different from what I thought it would be and was so wonderfully written.  It’s a pretty intense and depressing book about suicide and depression, and I can see how it would be too much for some people.  It really did surprise and impress me and I feel like it’s one of those Dystopians that will really impress you.  I absolutely need to read the other books in this series and the prequel, because I’m kind of obsessed now.