The Program by Suzanne Young
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.
Thoughts before you started reading The Program?
CHRISSI: I was worried. Last time I read a book that was so hyped I didn’t buy into the hype. But then I became very intrigued and was happy to find that Luna wanted to read it too. Perfect for our ‘Compare’ reviews.
LUNA: I saw The Program on Goodreads last year and have been keeping an eye out since. I was pretty sure I’d like this.
What did you think of Sloane?
CHRISSI: I really liked that she didn’t change who she was throughout. I liked that rebel nature within her.
LUNA: Despite losing herself in The Program Sloane’s personality doesn’t really change, she becomes stronger towards the end of the book but she’s still the same girl throughout. As a reader you know more of Sloane then she herself does, I think Suzanne Young pulled that off very well.
CHRISSI: I liked the relationship between Sloane and James. I was equally intrigued and frustrated by the relationship between Sloane and Realm.
LUNA: The story of how Sloane and James got together. Didn’t know I was such a romantic…
CHRISSI: I know dystopian books can pretty much build whatever world they want, but I like to believe it’s something that could potentially happen in the future. I didn’t find The Program believable at all, especially the attitude of the adults and how quickly people seemed to get over those that had committed suicide. I know it’s because they didn’t want to be taken into The Program, by appearing to suffer from depression but to me it just made them come across cold and uncaring and not very likeable at all.
LUNA: I guess the entire adult population, particularly Sloane’s mother. Books in this genre have pretty free reign in their world building but The Program is set so close to the present that I feel I should believe this can happen and I don’t.
The supposed normal behaviour is not to show negative emotion when bad things happen, if you do that you are flagged. Nobody challenges this – if you lose someone you love you are not ok within two weeks!
The fact that Sloane pretends to be fine because if she was acting upset that would be wrong makes no sense. How could any parent think a child that never has any emotions but positive ones is normal? You could have the best childhood in the world and I guarantee you there’d be days you we’re down and upset.
Maybe this is something that’s touched on in book 2 but that there isn’t so much of a hint of it in this one, so it makes it less convincing.
Favourite character / moment?
CHRISSI: I really like Sloane as a character, putting aside how she dealt with her losses.
LUNA: Given the premise of this book I can’t really think of any highlights as such. I guess the times Sloane told Dr Warren to stick it.
Was The Program what you expected?
CHRISSI: I expected it to be an enthralling read. It was. If I wasn’t as busy as I was then I would’ve read it all in one go. It made me think about the issue of teenage suicide and suicide in general. I’m not sure it dealt with the issue of suicide well though. Perhaps this will begin to happen in the next book? Or perhaps it’s not the aim of the book at all.
LUNA: I don’t know. I really don’t. As expected the writing had me reading The Program in one sitting. Part 1 in particular was an emotional rollercoaster but I did feel that the time passed very slowly. I was expecting suicide to be more important (I think that’s the right word) but it’s more of a means to an end. There had to be a reason for The Program and suicide was a reason.
Would you recommend it?
CHRISSI: I would recommend it. I think it’s a good read.
LUNA: Yes if you’re looking for a dystopian story, but as a book dealing with emotions surrounding suicide I don’t think this fits.
Luna: Ok I’m slightly spooked by how similar our answers are…