The Program (Program #1) 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.
Hardcover, 405 pages  Published April 30th 2013 by Simon Pulse
ISBN  1442445807 (ISBN13: 9781442445802)
I received an audiobook of this for review and was ecstatic with joy to get started with this story. I found the new idea of suicide as an epidemic was new and different and I love books having to do with institutions. 
The audiobook production was something that I found hard to form thoughts about while listening to it. I thought that the narrator Joy Osmanski  did a great job of giving voice to the main character. But I was not a fan of the pacing and way that the story was presented. It's sad and depressing and the characters are monotone in the way that represents the story/plot. Emotions in any form are frowned upon and besides sadness the main characters rarely show anything else.

As this is a story about dealing with high rates of suicides. There is not much of anything to look forward to besides getting to reach the age of 18 without being taken in by The Program. There is a lot of inner-analyzing emotions and how Sloane feels about the loss of friends and loved ones. But you don't get to show or react in any way without being in danger of getting taken by a Handler if you show those emotions. Totally erasing the idea of grieving or mourning the loss of those loved ones. This lead to a story full of hiding everything you feel and having to dumb yourself down and fade into the background so you don't get noticed. Pretty much acting like a droid, void of emotions.

Any sign of showing any emotions in Sloane's world turns out to be dangerous. Her parents keep a constant eye on her at home and the school when she's away. James and Sloane have to go off together alone just to be able to grieve their losses away from watchful eyes. There is absolutely nothing positive to look forward to really driving in the idea that this is a very depressing story. Their only goal in life is to survive to the age of 18 and freedom from The Program. We do get to go full circle in the book, but what we don't get much of is real life teenage reactions to what is happening. Where is all the drama? Would you just sit down and accept what is happening without a fight?

What I loved about this story was the relationship between James and Sloane. That honesty and complete devotion to each other was heartwarming. As this is the first book in a series I am going to accept that a lot of the feelings and questions I felt while reading/listening to this book will be answered/resolved in the continuation of the story. I sure hope that all of this build up leads to an emotionally drama filled sequel. 

As I typed this review there sure are a lot of ideas that the story did get me thinking about. Would I want to live in a world that has so little self expression? I suppose that if the idea behind the story was to show the reader what it would be like in a doped up-pill popping world of unemotional people to scared to deal with loss that they put their children into such insitutions, then I suppose that is exactly the message I got. What if there was so much loss that all you had was the choice to "save" the ones you can. And at what cost?

Have you read The Program? What were your thoughts?


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