The Program by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program #1
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
Publication date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 10 hours and 56 minutes
Narrator: Joy Osmanski
How I got it: I bought it!
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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 originally started reading, er listening to, The Program to prepare to read my ARC of the sequel, The Treatment. I read the book last year, but the details were a little fuzzy so I wanted a refresher before diving into the next book. I remember enjoying the book so much I decided I had to check out Suzanne’s other books while I waited for The Treatment. What I don’t remember, however, is the story affecting me as much the first time around. This is a rare case where I actually enjoyed a book more the second time around and increased my original rating.
The premise of The Program is genius. Unique. Teenage suicide as an epidemic? Awful. It’s just realistic and believable enough to make it absolutely terrifying. Of course, I also feel like a lot of the reactions were extreme and the kids were experiencing genuine emotion, not something that would be particularly worrisome. But that overreaction is fairly typical of dystopian fiction. I also think the Program and the fear of it caused more harm than it did good. Also pretty typical of dystopians. It’s difficult to imagine a world in which losing someone you love and showing emotion over it can cause you to be taken from your family and be stripped of everything that makes you, you. All of it. Gone. Of course, I think the “how” of how the patients are robbed of their memories is the worst part. It’s not like it happens all at once. It’s truly disturbing how they do it, but I won’t go into detail because you need to experience that for yourself.
I absolutely loved Sloane and James. They were a great couple. They were so obviously in love. I was so afraid they would be torn apart. Both Sloane and James were strong and determined. I loved reading about them and their story – the good and the bad.
This book affected me way more the second time around than it did the first. Many tears were shed. Even when I wasn’t reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How would it feel to know you only had a certain amount of time left with your memories? How would you deal? It’s unimaginable. The thing about it is, I *knew* what happened this time around, but it still seriously wrecked me.
While I started this book in audiobook format, I actually wound up reading the last quarter of it on my Kindle (again) because I couldn’t wait until my next commute to finish it. The audiobook version was great. The narrator, Joy Osmanski, did a fantastic job with the emotions and the story. I’ve finished my ARC of The Treatment, but I plan to buy it in audiobook format, too. Joy narrates that one as well and I’m looking forward to her performance in that story as well.
This is a great dystopian series. The concept is unique. The world-building is very good. The characters make the story though. There’s more of a focus on romance in this than in most other dystopians I’ve read and that might be what I liked so much about it. The romance was natural and the love was real. I can’t recommend this one enough to fans of young adult dystopian lit.