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.
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
The Program was a strange read for me. After finishing it, I can’t really tell you how I feel about the novel as a whole. There were parts I really loved and others that were just okay. I think the series has a lot of promise and with improvements in the world building and character development it can be truly exceptional.
The setup was intriguing—a suicide epidemic has brought into existence The Program, a government run mental health project that forces teens into a treatment program that erases their memories. Sloane begins to lose those close to her to either suicide or The Program. Her emotional outbursts due to these losses make her fearful that she’ll be locked away in one of The Program’s treatment facilities.
The Program had a strong start. I actually liked that Sloane and James were already a couple. Often I love the development of a new romance, but this was almost like witnessing the process in reverse. Although I liked the romance between them, I wished Sloane had her own identity. I appreciated the deep bond and how much James and Sloane loved one another, but it would’ve been nice to see Sloane have her own hobbies and interests outside of her boyfriend.
The secondary characters were all interesting, except for the unnecessary inclusion of a few baddies. I liked that the story was told from Sloane’s POV and I thought the author did a good job of portraying the emotions of someone who had lost someone close to them to suicide.
What I felt the book was lacking is that it didn’t delve enough into how the Program came into existence and what the reasoning was behind the us (teens) versus them (parents, therapists, etc) mentality. I could almost empathize with the parents. If the alternative were death, why wouldn’t I want to do everything in my power to hold onto my child? What is the basis for the resistance? Plus, wouldn’t facilities use proven treatment methods to cure the teens, not wiping all of their memories away?
The Program was thought provoking for sure and I’m curious to see how the series continues. There were some mature scenes and I’d recommend this book for older teens and adults.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!