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.
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Please tell me there will be a sequel to this book…please, please, please! I’m assuming there will be, as on goodreads.com it reads as The Program (The Program #1), so I’m crossing my fingers that there will be another book to go with this one. It’s not very often that I come across a book that has me so engrossed in it that it seriously makes time fly by. I was at my new job today (as a library assistant I might add) and my shift today was 6 hours…I read this book the ENTIRE time…and finished it, no less. Holy moly, this book is good. And rather frightening I might add. I mean heck, the cover even looks rather eerie…almost like it’s saying “you WILL be happy.”
Somewhat of a dystopian, though not entirely, The Program follows Sloane, a regular seventeen-year-old high school girl. Or so she appears. Sloane lives in a world where teen suicide is running rampant and is actually labeled as a disease that needs to be corrected and cured. Depression is taking hold of teenagers left and right, many attempting suicide through QuikDeath, but most succumbing to The Program. Basically what The Program does is “fix” a teen’s brain…it gets rid of pieces of the memory that possibly cause one to be depressed. By the end of the typical six week stay at The Program, teens come back brand new, not remembering much of their previous life. Creepy, right?
I loved Sloane. Really. She was an amazing character from the get go: strong-willed, loving, caring, protective, rebellious (in a way), and much more. She has, however, dealt with her fair share of those close to her either committing suicide or becoming part of The Program; it’s no wonder teens keep getting the “disease” the way things play out in this book. I also loved Sloane’s boyfriend, James. To some he may appear obnoxious, but I kind of think that’s what I liked about him. He was obnoxious to some, but not to Sloane; he loved the ground she walked on. Yes, you can all go “aww” now. James was also best friends with Sloane’s older brother, Randy. Unfortunately (and this is in the description, so I’m not giving anything away) Randy was one of those teens who killed himself out of depression; the worst part is that Sloane AND James watched it happen, but couldn’t do anything to stop it.
My heart ached throughout the entire book. Not even exaggerating there, it really did. There were so many heartbreaking and heart-wrenching moments that I thought for sure there would be no form of happiness anywhere in the book. Luckily, there was, but I won’t go there since that would give away parts of the book. Suzanne Young broke this book up into three parts: Uncomfortably Numb, The Program, and Wish You Weren’t Here, plus an epilogue. Based on each part, you can probably figure out what happens in each section (before The Program, during The Program, and after The Program basically.) There was so much in this book that it’s really hard to pick and choose what I talk about, the majority of it took place while Sloane was in The Program.
There were so many great characters throughout the book, besides Sloane and James. Realm, Miller, Tabitha, Lacey, Kevin, heck, I’ll go as far as to say Roger was a rather interesting character; if you read the book, you’ll know what I mean. Throughout the book, there were many moments that seemed to repeat themselves quite often, but I think that was the point. Actually, no, I know it was the point, so if it sounds a little repetitive, keep going, it’s meant to. Quite frankly, I found myself feeling depressed while reading this book (not to the point of how the teens felt in this book, but I was definitely feeling very emotional about it.) It’s horrible to think that simply crying could get one flagged to be entered into The Program, just because it shows a sign of weakness and breaking down. Just think, one bad day could have you locked up in The Program where your memory bank becomes a clean slate. Of course, once a person turns eighteen, they are no longer eligible for The Program; it focuses on teenagers only.
It all boils down to one major question that Sloane keeps asking herself after she leaves The Program: who are we without our memories? Are we still the same person, just missing certain point in our lives? Can we ever be that previous person again without those memories? Makes you wonder who you would be if you didn’t have certain memories yourself.