Goodreads Summary: In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.Goodreads / Amazon
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.
Genre: Young adult, romance
Publisher: Simon Pulse
How I Got It: Purchased physical copy
First Line: "The air in the room tastes sterile."
Favorite Quote: "I'm so alone it's like being dead but still conscious."
I was looking forward to The Program when I first heard about it; the summary sounded pretty interesting, and I love the starkness of the white and yellow on the cover. When you remove the jacket, the two models are facing you rather than turned away, and for some reason this is really cool. There are pills scattered around the back cover, and it fits the book so well. If all covers were this true to their stories, there would be much less cover hatred coming from me on a regular basis (mostly for redesigns, ugh). I was planning to get a copy of this from the library, but I had a little money left over at the end of the month and kind of bought it impulsively. I'm glad I decided to get it, because it was either The Program or Arclight, and I definitely enjoyed the former a lot more.
Though I ended up liking The Program, it seemed like it took me forever to read the whole thing. I have no idea why; the pacing didn't feel that off. Though it wasn't exactly heart-pounding suspense, I was continuously interested. Especially after realizing that this was set in a world very much like ours; the only difference is the suicide epidemic and the lengths people are going to stop it. I figured it would be dystopian-like society, but I think I like the way Young did it better. I am still not completely sure how I feel about the Program. On one hand, it seems like a hideous, evil thing. Taking someone's memories by force is cruel and horrible. But at the same time it did keep some of the characters alive after they were ready to take their own lives because of all the tragedy that had touched them. Maybe they could be more selective about what they got rid of? However, fear of the Program is exactly why a lot of teenagers were committing suicide, so maybe it just adds to to problem more in the big picture of things. I have seriously mixed feelings about this.
Sloane was not a bad narrator; in fact by the end of the novel I was surprised to find that I actually grew to care for her quite a bit. But at the same time I found it impossible to fully connect with her because of how detached and depressed she remains for most of the story. In the beginning especially, she is going through a lot, using her boyfriend James as an anchor. The only other examples I can think of with this kind of narrator are Rhine and Araby, both of which I also cared for despite their distance. Because of everything that happened, I cut Sloane some slack and didn't judge her as harshly as I would have under different circumstances. Even though her parents - her mother mostly - thought they were doing what was best for her, I have to say, I hated them with a passion, along with all the staff in the Program. I was a little surprised that she gave into taking the pills and talking to the doctor so easily when she first arrived, but was happy when she started fighting back a little towards the end.
I enjoyed Sloane and James' relationship; they relied heavily on each other through most of the book. The only reason that support failed is because of chain of sad events that happened one after the other, and it just got to be too much for the both of them. James was a little rough around the edges, but at the same time I felt like he was exactly what the story needed because of his rebelliousness. I liked them together so much, actually, that I disliked Realm from the moment he popped up in the story. I figured this would develop into a horrible love triangle, but it didn't really work out that way. Realm did a few questionable things, but I believe he did care for Sloane.
I will admit that I felt the story drag just a little here and there, though honestly the writing is fairly lovely. But what really saves the story is the ending; it stops on a hopeful note, but at the same time it really makes me want to pick up the next book in the series. I was cheering for the characters by that point. The world Young has created is interesting and definite food for thought; overall, The Program is a very good read.
Books in this series:
1. The Program
2. The Treatment
My Book Addiction
Between the Lines
A Little Shelf of Heaven