Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

Title: The Program
Series: The Program #1
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: April 30, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance, Mystery, Mental Health


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.

I went into the Program not knowing what to expect. I was in the mood for a dystopian novel but had heard mixed things about this book. From what I'd seen online, people had either loved it or hated it. I thought I'd give it a shot, and I'm pretty glad I did. 

The premise of this book was intriguing from the very beginning. Sloane and James' world is one in which teen suicide is an epidemic. Any emotions resembling depression, fear or sorrow, even within their own homes, can result in their being flagged and forcibly admitted into the Program. The Program is in place to brainwash teenagers, steal their memories and nurse them back into perfect citizens. I mean, seriously. It's an insane premise. After reading the synopsis I was instantly interested in reading this book.

The Program was a very character driven novel. The characters were intricate and complex and had me rooting for them until the very last word. However, I'm still unsure as to how I feel about Sloane. Part of me wants to say she is a strong female lead character, but another part of me knows that isn't entirely true. She spends most of the book trying to remain stoic amidst reminders of her brother's suicide which is rather brave of her, although I felt like she spent the remainder of the book relying on James or wallowing about and wondering what to do without him. Other than that, Sloane was a fairly likable character. I connected with her immediately. I felt that I empathized with her entire situation. The loss of her brother was devastating and had adverse effects on her life.

Several times I found myself holding my breath and looking over my shoulder to see if the Program was coming for me. The story was quite suspenseful and was an overly emotional ride but I found that it wasn't particularly plot heavy. It was more of like an introduction to the characters and their backgrounds. 

I thought that Sloane and James had a lovely relationship. They're nowhere near my OTP but they  do have believable chemistry. The fact that they had a pre-existing relationship was rather refreshing to see and though it did mean we missed out on a substantial amount of the initial tension and excitement and courtship, the flashbacks in the book helped establish their bond.

After finishing this book I was left with many lingering questions, especially when it came to the world-building. My two biggest questions being: How did the epidemic come to be? Who is behind the Program? How do they get away with brainwashing?

Overall, The Program is an emotional and surprisingly romantic dystopian novel that explores relevant contemporary issues such as depression and suicide. This book is perfect for people who are looking for a character driven and emotionally intense read. I'll definitely be picking up the next installment, The Treatment, whenever I get the chance. 


  1. I loved The Program, despite the fact that it was horribly depressing, you know, what with all the brain-washing and stuff...

    1. I know! I feel like a bad person for enjoying such horrible things but it was definitely an entertaining and emotional ride.


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