“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.”
-Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11366397-the-program?bf=1000&from_search=true)
The Program had been sitting for months in my TBR shelf before I finally picked up. On the one hand, I mentally kicked myself for taking so long to get to it. On the other hand, I was happy that I took so long to read it, as the sequel will be released soon.
This book has a very interesting premise, as suicide has apparently become an epidemic among teenagers. This leads to a society where crying is not a good thing, and parents are ever watchful of their children’s behavior. If a teenager exhibits a suspect behavior, he is sent to the Program, where he will be cured. What I did miss here was some sort of elaboration on the epidemic. If crying and attempts to commit suicide are symptoms, what causes them? Is it a virus? Or what? I just found it a bit lacking to have a disease and a treatment, but not have the underlying cause of it. I hope the cause is explained in the sequel.
Because the book is written in first person, it was a bit frustrating at times to watch Sloane change because her memories were being wiped out. It made complete sense, that’s not the problem, but I found myself wanting to yell at her not to do something or trust someone. There were also some revelations at the very end that shocked me (should have seen the signs, though).
The world building felt a bit terrifying, thanks to the whole “if you cry, that means you’re sick” thing. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think I would have been flagged and sent to the Program. Not to mention how daunting is the possibility of having your memories erased, without even really realizing it. I’d say that, as far as dystopias go, this is the most scary I’ve read in a while. It is scary not because it incites fear, but because it deals with the erasure of something that helps makes us who we are: our memories, our past.
I am definitely going to read the next book when it comes out, in the hopes that it doesn’t turn into a wreck.
Rating: 4 out of 5