Wednesday, August 7, 2013

REVIEW: The Program by Suzanne Young

Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young Website Twitter Facebook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Pages: 416
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

First Thoughts: Another book where the concept was fantastic and unique (seriously thought-provoking), however, there was one piece of it, that for some reason, held me back from truly loving it.  I liked it, but didn’t love it.

I can admit it; I am a dystopian addict. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t stop picking these books up (and, I really am trying to broaden my reading horizons). I mean, how could I not pick up The Program? The cover is fantastic, the story line seemed unique (albeit a little bit like Delirium), and it was being promoted all over the place. They got me hook, line, and sinker.

I liked the story, really I did (although not enough to send the sequel to the top of my reading list). So let me start there, why I liked it. The concept of teen suicide as an epidemic intrigued me; it’s such a current problem, and yet, how do we stop it? How do we fix it? Although The Program (the actual Program, not the book title) seemed intrusive and wrong in so many ways, it almost felt right. How could society sit by while all of these teenagers killed themselves? We can’t stop people from feeling heartache, so instead, wipe away those almost makes sense (in a weird twisted way). It was the heartbreak that I connected with; even with some of the parts that bothered me (more to come), Suzanne Young does a fantastic job making the reader feel Sloane’s pain. I mean, when she talks about her brother’s suicide and losing James, the pain is real. And, it makes you think. Depression is such a BIG issue, and with the experiences today’s teenagers have, it’s no wonder the numbers keep growing. How do we stop it? Obviously, Young makes it clear that The Program is not the answer, but what is?

So here’s what my problem was, and it’s probably not even a big issue but for some reason I couldn’t move past it - the sex. Typically in young adult novels, sex is involved. Whether it’s being had or not, there’s always some underlying romance or relationship. However, most authors insinuate; they aren’t graphic or explicit. The Program wasn’t necessarily graphic or over the top, it was just obvious. It didn’t flow for me. I felt like James and Sloane’s relationship stood strong without the sexual references. It was almost as if the scenes were added to make the story a bit more provocative. I don’t know why, but it just really didn’t work for me.

Final Thoughts: A novel reminiscent of Delirium, in that a seemingly far-fetched future, when thought about, is not that unrealistic after all. A fast-paced, engaging story; remove a few unnecessary scenes (in my opinion) and I would have loved this book.

Who Should Read It? Dystopian readers should add this to their lists; it’s a concept different from all of the big-bad government dystopians and yet, like those, it’s extremely plausible. There’s romance (too much for my liking), some humor, and A LOT of real-world questioning. It might not rank among my favorite dystopians, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

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