Title: The Program #1
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐
Ever since a strange epidemic caught
hold of teenagers, causing them to give in to suicidal depression, the
governments of some states in the US have launched the Program. This faceless
entity is always watching and aware of what young people are up to.
The mandatory six-week treatment aims
to cure depressed teens by wiping them clean of all their memories, happy and
When Sloane Barstow’s brother Brady
falls sick and kills himself, she and her boyfriend James Murphy, who was also
Brady’s best friend, slowly begin to give in to depression and sorrow. James
promises to keep Sloane strong and safe, but the suicide of Miller, their other
friend, tips him over and he seeks to kill himself. He is taken away by the Program.
Now Sloane is on her own. it’s getting harder to keep a grip on herself. It’s
only a matter of time before she gives in, and when that happens, the Program
will come for her.
This Program, Book 1 in the series, is
written in the first person present tense PoV of Sloane. The book is divided
into Part I Uncomfortably Numb, Part II The Program and Part III Wish You Weren’t
We don’t get a sense of what is
causing this epidemic of depressive tendencies in young people. All we are told
is that teenagers, but not adults, are getting sick. What is this world in
which grownups are well adjusted and adult suicide is a thing of the past?
The author’s focus is not on the epidemic,
or on what it means to lose one’s memories, and therefore one’s sense of
identity. I would have liked the book more if it had had more about the
suicides, the grief of those left behind, the grief, mourning and closure.
I didn’t like any of the characters. Sloane
was uninteresting. Her only qualities are that she is pretty and good at Maths,
or certainly better than James is. And the other characters don’t get much
Also, while I am no expert on mental
illness, the past that the teens traverse while they contemplate suicide is not
as singular as it is portrayed here. In this book, QuikDeath provides a quick
fix. Depressive people draw endless loops of spirals in their books.
The Program follows a flawed reasoning,
taking from young people their right to grieve openly.
The author’s focus is unfortunately on
the romance between Sloane and James. That some things are destined to happen
is the conclusion the author wants us to draw.
This book had the makings of a good dystopian novel. Had I known it was a romance, I would not have read it.