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The Program

The Program

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The Program

évaluations:
4.5/5 (302 évaluations)
Longueur:
424 pages
6 heures
Sortie:
Apr 30, 2013
ISBN:
9781442445826
Format:
Livre

Description

In this “gripping tale for lovers of dystopian romance” (Kirkus Reviews), 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.
Sortie:
Apr 30, 2013
ISBN:
9781442445826
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Suzanne Young currently lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she drafts novels on restaurant napkins while eating chimichangas. After earning her degree in creative writing, Suzanne spent several years teaching middle school language arts. She is also the author of A Need So Beautiful.


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The Program - Suzanne Young

Parzych

PART I

UNCOMFORTABLY NUMB

CHAPTER ONE

THE AIR IN THE ROOM TASTES STERILE. THE LINGERING scent of bleach is mixing with the fresh white paint on the walls, and I wish my teacher would open the window to let in a breeze. But we’re on the third floor so the pane is sealed shut—just in case anyone gets the urge to jump.

I’m still staring at the paper on my desk when Kendra Phillips turns around in her seat, looking me over with her purple contacts. You’re not done yet?

I glance past her to make sure Mrs. Portman is distracted at the front of the room, and then I smile. It’s far too early in the morning to properly psychoanalyze myself, I whisper. I’d almost rather learn about science.

Maybe a coffee spiked with QuikDeath would help you focus on the pain.

My expression falters; just the mention of the poison enough to send my heart racing. I hold Kendra’s empty stare—a deadness behind it that even purple contacts can’t disguise. Her eyes are ringed with heavy circles from lack of sleep, and her face has thinned sharply. She’s exactly the kind of person who can get me in trouble, and yet I can’t look away.

I’ve known Kendra for years, but we’re not really friends, especially now. Not when she’s been acting depressed for close to a month. I try to avoid her, but today there’s something desperate about her that I can’t ignore. Something about the way her body seems to tremble even though she’s sitting still.

God, don’t look so serious, she says, lifting one bony shoulder. I’m just kidding, Sloane. Oh, and hey, she adds as if just remembering the real reason she turned to me in the first place. Guess who I saw last night at the Wellness Center? Lacey Klamath.

She leans forward as she tells me, but I’m struck silent. I had no idea that Lacey was back.

Just then the door opens with a loud click. I glance toward the front of the classroom and freeze, my breath catching in my throat. The day has just become significantly worse.

Two handlers with crisp white jackets and comb-smoothed hair stand in the doorway, their expressionless faces traveling over us as they seek someone out. When they start forward, I begin to wilt.

Kendra spins around in her seat, her back rigid and straight. Not me, she murmurs, her hands clasped tightly in front of her like she’s praying. Please, not me.

From her podium, Mrs. Portman begins her lesson as if there’s no interruption. As if people in white coats should be waltzing in during her speech on the kinetic theory of matter. It’s the second time the handlers have interrupted class this week.

The men separate to opposite sides of the classroom, their shoes tapping on the linoleum floor as they come closer. I look away, opting to watch the leaves fall from the trees outside the window instead. It’s October, but the summer has bled into fall, bathing us all in unexpected Oregon sunshine. I wish I could be anywhere else right now.

The footsteps stop, but I don’t acknowledge them. I can smell the handlers near me—antiseptic, like rubbing alcohol and Band-Aids. I don’t dare move.

Kendra Phillips, a voice says gently. Can you please come with us?

I hold back the sound that’s trying to escape from behind my lips, a combination of relief and sympathy. I refuse to look at Kendra, terrified that the handlers will notice me. Please don’t notice me.

No, Kendra says to them, her voice choked off. I’m not sick.

Ms. Phillips, the voice says again, and this time I have to look. The dark-haired handler leans to take Kendra by the elbow, guiding her from the chair. Kendra immediately lashes out, yanking her arm from his grasp as she tries to clamor over her desk.

Both men descend on her as Kendra thrashes and screams. She’s barely five feet, but she’s fighting hard—harder than the others. I feel the tension rolling off the rest of the class, all of us hoping for a quick resolution. Hoping that we’ll make it another day without getting flagged.

I’m not sick! Kendra yells, breaking from their hold once again.

Mrs. Portman finally stops her lesson as she looks on with a pained expression. The calm she tries to exude is fraying at the edges. Next to me a girl starts crying and I want to tell her to shut up, but I don’t want to attract attention. She’ll have to fend for herself.

The dark-haired handler wraps his arms around Kendra’s waist, lifting her off the floor as she kicks her legs out. A string of obscenities tears from her mouth as saliva leaks from the corners. Her face is red and wild, and all at once I think she’s sicker than we ever imagined. That the real Kendra is no longer in there, and maybe hasn’t been since her sister died.

My eyes well up at the thought, but I push it down. Down deep where I can keep all my feelings until later when there’s no one watching me.

The handler puts his palm over Kendra’s mouth, muffling her sounds as he whispers soothing things into her ear, continuing to work her bucking body toward the door. The other handler dashes ahead to hold it open.

Just then the man holding Kendra screams out and drops her, shaking his hand as if she bit him. Kendra jumps up to run and the handler lunges for her, his closed fist connecting with her face. The shot sends her into Mrs. Portman’s podium before knocking her to the ground. The teacher gasps as Kendra flops in front of her, but Mrs. Portman only backs away.

Kendra’s top lip is split wide open and leaking blood all over her gray sweater and the white floor. She barely has time to process what happened when the handler grabs her by the ankle and begins to drag her—caveman style—toward the exit. Kendra screams and begs. She tries to hold on to anything within her reach, but instead she’s leaving a trail of blood along the floor.

When they finally get to the doorway, she raises her purple eyes in my direction, reaching out a reddened hand to me. Sloane! she screams. And I stop breathing.

The handler pauses, glancing over his shoulder at me. I’ve never seen him here before today, but something about the way he’s watching me now makes my skin crawl, and I look down.

I don’t lift my head again until I hear the door shut. Kendra’s shouts are promptly cut off in the hallway, and I wonder momentarily if she was Tasered or injected with a sedative. Either way, I’m glad it’s over.

Around the room, there are several sniffles, but it’s mostly silent. Blood still covers the front of the room in streaks of crimson.

Sloane? the teacher asks, startling me. I haven’t gotten your daily assessment yet. Mrs. Portman starts toward the closet where she keeps the bucket and mop, and other than the high lilt of her voice, she has no noticeable reaction to Kendra being dragged from our class.

I swallow hard and apologize, moving to take my pencil from my backpack. As my teacher sloshes the bleach on the floor, choking us with the smell once again, I begin to shade in the appropriate ovals.

In the past day have you felt lonely or overwhelmed?

I stare down at the bright white paper, the same one that waits at our desk every morning. I want to crumple it into a ball and throw it across the room, scream for people to acknowledge what just happened to Kendra. Instead I take a deep breath and answer.

NO.

This isn’t true—we all feel lonely and overwhelmed. Sometimes I’m not sure there’s another way to feel. But I know the routine. I know what a wrong answer can do. Next question.

I fill in the rest of the ovals, pausing when I get to the last one, just like I do every time. Has anyone close to you ever committed suicide?

YES.

Marking that answer day after day nearly destroys me. But it’s the one question where I have to tell the truth. Because they already know the answer.

After signing my name at the bottom, I grab my paper with a shaky hand and walk up to Mrs. Portman’s desk, standing in the wet area where Kendra’s blood used to be. I try not to look down as I wait for my teacher to put away the cleaning products.

Sorry, I tell her again when she comes to take the sheet from me. I notice a small smudge of blood on her pale pink shirtsleeve, but don’t mention it.

She looks over my answers, and then nods, filing the paper in the attendance folder. I hurry back to my seat, listening to the tense silence. I wait for the sound of the door, the approaching footsteps. But after a long minute, my teacher clears her throat and goes back to her lesson on friction. Relieved, I close my eyes.

Teen suicide was declared a national epidemic—killing one in three teens—nearly four years ago. It always existed before that, but seemingly overnight handfuls of my peers were jumping off buildings, slitting their wrists—most without any known reason. Strangely enough, the rate of incidence among adults stayed about the same, adding to the mystery.

When the deaths first started increasing, there were all sorts of rumors. From defective childhood vaccines to pesticides in our food—people grasped for any excuse. The leading view says that the oversupply of antidepressants changed the chemical makeup of our generation, making us more susceptible to depression.

I don’t know what I believe anymore, and really, I try not to think about it. But the psychologists say that suicide is a behavioral contagion. It’s the old adage If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you, too? Apparently the answer is yes.

To fight the outbreak, our school district implemented the pilot run of The Program—a new philosophy in prevention. Among the five schools, students are monitored for changes in mood or behavior, flagged if a threat is determined. Anyone exhibiting suicidal tendencies is no longer referred to a psychologist. Instead, the handlers are called.

And then they come and take you.

Kendra Phillips will be gone for at least six weeks—six weeks spent in a facility where The Program will mess with her mind, take her memories. She’ll be force-fed pills and therapy until she doesn’t even know who she is anymore. After that they’ll ship her off to a small private school until graduation. A school designated for other returners, other empty souls.

Like Lacey.

My phone vibrates in my pocket and I let out a held breath. I don’t have to check to know what it means—James wants to meet. It’s the push I need to get through the rest of the period, the fact that he’s waiting for me. The fact that he’s always waiting for me.

•  •  •

As we file out of the classroom forty minutes later, I notice the dark-haired handler in the hallway, watching us. He seems to take extra time on me, but I try hard not to notice. Instead I keep my head down and walk quickly toward the gymnasium to find James.

I check over my shoulder to make sure no one is following me before turning down the stark white corridor with the metal double doors. It’s nearly impossible to trust anyone not to report you for suspicious behavior. Not even our parents—especially not our parents.

It was Lacey’s father who called The Program to tell them that she was unwell. So now James, Miller, and I do everything we can to keep up the front at home. Smiles and small talk equal well-balanced and healthy. I wouldn’t dare show my parents anything else. Not now.

But once I turn eighteen, The Program loses its hold on me. I won’t be a minor so they can no longer force me into treatment. Although my risk doesn’t technically lower, The Program is bound to the laws of the land. I’ll be an adult, and as an adult it’s my God-given right to off myself if I so please.

Unless the epidemic gets worse. Then who knows what they’ll do.

When I get to the gymnasium doors, I push on the cold metal bar and slip inside. It’s been years since this part of the building was used. The Program cut athletics immediately after taking over, claiming it added too much competitive stress to our fragile student population. Now this space is used for storage—unused desks piled in the corner, stacks of unneeded textbooks.

Anyone see you?

I jump and look at James as he stands in the cramped space underneath the folded bleachers. Our space. The emotionless armor I’ve been wearing weakens.

No, I whisper. James holds out his hand to me and I meet him in the shadows, pressing myself close to him. It’s not a good day, I murmur against his mouth.

It rarely is.

James and I have been together for over two years—since I was fifteen. But I’ve known him my entire life. He’d been best friends with my brother, Brady, before he killed himself.

I choke on the memory, like I’m drowning in it. I pull from James and bang the back of my head on the corner of the wooden bleacher above us. Wincing, I touch my scalp, but don’t cry. I wouldn’t dare cry at school.

Let me see, James says, reaching to rub his fingers over the spot. You were probably protected by all this hair. He grins and lets his hand glide into my dark curls, resting it protectively on the back of my neck. When I don’t return his smile, he pulls me closer. Come here, he whispers, sounding exhausted as he puts his arms around me.

I hug him, letting the images of Brady fade from my head, along with the picture of Lacey being dragged from her house by handlers. I slide my hand under the sleeve of James’s T-shirt and onto his bicep where his tattoos are.

The Program makes us anonymous, strips us of our right to mourn—because if we do, we can get flagged for appearing depressed. So James has found another way. On his right arm he’s keeping a list in permanent ink of those we’ve lost. Starting with Brady.

I’m having bad thoughts, I tell him.

Then stop thinking, he says simply.

They took Kendra last period. It was horrible. And Lacey—

Stop thinking, James says again, a little more forcefully.

I look up at him, the heaviness still in my chest as I meet his eyes. It’s hard to tell in the shadows, but James’s eyes are light blue, the sort of crystal blue that can make anyone stop with just a glance. He’s stunning that way.

Kiss me instead, he murmurs. I lean forward to press my lips to his, letting him have me in a way that only he can. A moment filled with sadness and hope. A bond of secrets and promises of forever.

It’s been two years since my brother died. Practically overnight, our lives were changed. We don’t know why Brady killed himself, why he abandoned us. But then again, no one knows what’s causing the epidemic—not even The Program.

Above us the bell for class rings, but neither James nor I react. Instead James’s tongue touches mine and he pulls me closer, deepening our kiss. Although dating is allowed, we try to keep our relationship low-key at school, at least when we can. The Program claims that forming healthy bonds keeps us emotionally strong, but then again, if it all goes horribly wrong, they can just make us forget. The Program can erase anything.

I swiped my dad’s car keys, James whispers between my lips. What do you say we go skinny-dipping in the river after school?

How about you get naked and I’ll just watch?

Works for me.

I laugh, and James gives me one more squeeze before taking his arms from around me. He pretends to fix my hair, really just messing it up more. Better get to class, he says finally. And tell Miller he’s invited to watch me swim naked too.

I back away, first kissing my fingers and then holding them up in a wave. James smiles.

He always knows what to say to me. How to make me feel normal. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have survived Brady’s death without him. In fact, I know I wouldn’t have.

After all, suicide is contagious.

CHAPTER TWO

WHEN I WALK INTO ECONOMICS, I TELL MY TEACHER that therapy ran late, taking out one of the fake passes that me, James, and Miller made weeks ago. Since The Program started monitoring our school, I’ve found that my boyfriend is not only a talented liar but also a master of forgery. A handy skill to have as of late.

Mr. Rocco only glances at the pass before motioning me toward the back. It’s the fifth time I’ve been late this month, but luckily no one ever questions me. I’ve learned how to appear well. And in their eyes, talking to a professional is a sign that I’m trying to stay healthy.

Hey, gorgeous, Miller says when I sit down. "You and James have a good therapy session?" He’s sitting in the desk next to mine, staring into his lap as the teacher turns to write on the dry-erase board.

Miller and I have been friends since the beginning of last year, sharing most of our classes together. He’s tall and wide, and I imagine if our high school had a football team, he’d be their star athlete.

Yep, I respond. Think we really had a breakthrough this time.

I bet.

He smiles but doesn’t look over. Instead he continues to doodle in a notepad that he’s got stashed under the desk. My heart thuds in my chest at what I have to say next.

Lacey’s back, I say quietly.

Miller scratches his pen harder into the paper. Where’d you hear that? I try not to react as the color drains from his face.

Kendra Phillips told me before they came and . . . I lower my voice. Took her.

Miller finally looks sideways at me, obviously hearing about Kendra for the first time. His brown eyes narrow, maybe deciding if he truly believes that Lacey could be home. But then he just nods and goes back to his notepad. Never saying a word.

His silence nearly breaks me, and I spread my fingers out on the cool desktop, trying to keep my emotions in check. I stare down at my fingers, at the plastic heart-shaped ring there. James had given it to me the first time he kissed me—a few months before my brother died. Lacey and Miller always joked that this ring was the closest I’d ever come to getting a real diamond from him. Then James would laugh, saying that he knew what I really wanted and it didn’t sparkle.

It was a different time then—a time when we all thought we’d make it. I close my eyes to keep from crying.

I think . . . Miller pauses, like he’s not sure he wants to say it. When I turn to him he bites on his lip. I think I’m going to go to Sumpter to see her.

Miller— I start, but he waves me away.

I have to know if she remembers me, Sloane. I won’t be able to think of anything else until I know.

I watch him for a long moment, see the pain behind his eyes. There’s nothing I can say that will change his mind. Not when he loves her so much. Be careful is all I can utter.

I will.

My fear is strong enough to choke me. I worry that Miller will get caught at the alternative school and be flagged in the process. We’re expected to keep our distance from the returners unless the time is monitored at the Wellness Center, at least for a while. If we’re caught interfering with their recovery, we can get flagged or even arrested. And none of us wants to be sent away to become comfortably numb.

Miller is quiet through the rest of class, but when the bell rings, he gives me a nod. It might be dangerous for him to approach Lacey at this point, but if she was herself she’d want him to try. See you at lunch, he says, touching my shoulder before walking toward the door.

See you then, I respond, and quickly pull out my phone. I text James. MILLER’S GOT A STUPID PLAN.

I wait, still in my seat as the classroom filters out around me. When a message pops up on the screen, I feel my chest tighten.

SO DO I.

PLEASE DON’T, I type. I’m terrified that my boyfriend and my best friend will get flagged, and I’ll be left all alone in this barren place. This barren world.

But all I get back is: I LOVE YOU, SLOANE.

•  •  •

James and I watch as Miller waits in the lunch line, his movements slow and lethargic. He hasn’t been the same since I told him about Lacey, and I hate myself for it. I should have let James break the news.

At the start of lunch, James and Miller decide that after classes we’ll go to Sumpter High—the school for returners—and wait for Lacey to walk out. There’s no way Miller would get more than a few words in at the Wellness Center, not when handlers will be guarding Lacey for three more weeks. Miller is hoping that, in the parking lot of Sumpter (with the proper diversion), he can get Lacey alone long enough to remind her of who he is. He thinks he can get her back.

James is next to me with his head on his folded arms as they rest on the lunch table. He’s trying to look casual, but his eyes are trained on Miller. At Sumpter, you and I are going to create a distraction, James says in my direction.

And if it doesn’t work?

His mouth turns up, his eyes flicking from the line to mine. I can be distracting, don’t you think?

James, I miss her too. But I don’t want anything to—

He reaches out his hand to clasp mine. I know the risk, but what if she’s still in there somehow? Miller has to try, Sloane. I would do it for you.

And I would for you, I answer automatically. But James’s face clouds over.

Don’t say that, he snaps. Don’t even think it. He lets go of my hand. I’ll kill myself before they ever take me into The Program.

Tears burn my eyes because I know it’s not an idle threat. It’s a real possibility. James doesn’t try to console me this time, there’s no point. He can’t promise me he won’t kill himself. No one can.

Six weeks ago, after they took Lacey, I had to fight hard to keep from slipping into the depression that seems to be always waiting. The depression that tells me I’ll never make it. That it’d be easier to just let go. James convinced me and Miller that Lacey was gone forever, as if she was dead, and told us to mourn—privately. But now she’s back and I’m not sure how to feel anymore.

James doesn’t speak again until Miller drops down in the seat, the food on his tray jumping as he does. The room around us buzzes, but it’s quieter than usual. Word of Kendra’s transfer has put everyone on edge.

I notice the dark-haired handler standing by the exit door, not trying to disguise how he’s watching me. I lower my eyes to my half-eaten hamburger. Kendra called to me as she was being dragged out. She made him notice me. I can’t tell James.

Just then James rests his chin on my shoulder as his fingers touch mine. I’m sorry, he murmurs. I’m a dick, and I’m sorry.

I look sideways at him, his blond hair curling at the ends near his neck, his blue eyes wide as he stares at me. I don’t want anything to happen to you, I say quietly, hoping Miller won’t hear me and think of Lacey.

James moves to put his arms around my waist to turn me toward him before pressing his forehead to mine, ignoring the fact that everyone can see us. His breath is warm across my lips. I don’t want anything to happen to me either. But I’ll keep us safe.

I close my eyes, letting the heat of his body compensate for the cold fear in my chest. Promise?

It takes him so long to answer that I give up and let in the dark thoughts once again. The idea that James can be ripped from me at any moment, or that I can get sent away to be changed forever.

But suddenly James buries his face in my hair as he hugs me to him. I stop worrying about the people around us, or even about Miller. I need to hear it. James knows I need to hear it. So then to my absolute relief his mouth is next to my ear and he whispers, I promise.

•  •  •

Sumpter High looms in front of us, looking more like a hospital than an educational facility. The stone facade is washed in white and the large rectangular windows are most certainly sealed. There’s a circular drop-off area near the front, but Miller and I are sitting in the cab of his truck in the back parking lot, staring ahead in silence.

James plans to meet us here after he puts in an appearance at his last class, but Miller and I had study hall, so we took off early with one of the fake passes. There are only ten more minutes until Sumpter lets out, and the anxiety at seeing Lacey again is growing, both in me and in Miller. I turn to look sideways at him.

Miller’s hat is pulled low, shading his eyes. Even though the ignition is off, his knuckles are white as they wrap around the steering wheel. All at once I’m scared of what he’ll do and how he’ll keep it under control. We shouldn’t be here.

Is there even a real plan? I ask. James wouldn’t tell me anything.

Miller doesn’t seem to hear me as he gazes out the windshield. Did you know that Lacey was a natural blond? he asks, sounding far away. She always had that red dye in her hair and I figured it was brown underneath, but it wasn’t. I saw it in an old picture of her once. I’m a jerk for not knowing, right? I should have known.

I’ve been friends with Lacey since elementary school, so I can remember when she had yellow pigtails. It’s such a small thing for Miller to feel bad about, but I can tell that he does. As if knowing this detail could have saved her from The Program.

She loved you, I whisper, even though it’s almost cruel to say now. It was all real.

Miller smiles to himself, but it’s pained. If you can’t remember, it didn’t happen. And since she won’t . . . He trails off, staring once again at the large building.

I think about the Lacey we knew before she was taken. Her bright, bloodred hair and black, tight dresses. She was a force of nature. She was a presence. Leading up to The Program she’d been acting differently, and yet, none of us said anything about it—maybe hoping it would go away. We all failed her.

The handlers had been waiting at Lacey’s house the night they came to take her to The Program. We were dropping her off, and I can still remember James joking about the unfamiliar car in her driveway, saying that it was pretty late for her parents to have friends over—maybe they were swingers. Lacey smiled but didn’t laugh. I just thought she was tired. I should have asked if she was okay.

But I didn’t. She gave Miller a quick kiss and climbed out, walking to her house. She’d barely gotten inside when we heard her scream. We all rushed to get out of the car, when her front door opened.

It’s a sight I’ll never get out of my head. On either side of her were the men in white coats holding her as she thrashed around, screaming that she’d kill them. She managed to get loose and tried crawling back into the house, calling for her mother as the handlers dragged her out. Tears streaked mascara down her cheeks, and she begged for them to let her go.

Miller started toward the house, but James grabbed him, wrapping his arm around his neck to hold him. It’s too late, James whispered. I looked back at him fiercely then, but I saw the devastation on his face. The fear. James met my eyes only to tell me to get in the car.

James pushed Miller and me into the backseat and then got behind the wheel, pulling away quickly. Miller was clutching my shirt, ripping it at the collar as we drove past. And the last thing we saw was Lacey getting Tasered by a handler, flopping to the floor like a dying fish.

I reach now for Miller, trying to pry his fingers off the steering wheel. When I finally do, he turns to me. Do you think there’s a chance, Sloane? he asks almost desperately. Do you think there’s any chance she remembers me?

The question chokes me, and I press my lips together to keep myself from crying. There is no chance—The Program is thorough. The Program works. But I can’t bear to tell him that, so I shrug. You never know, I say, fighting the feeling of loss. And if not, you can always reintroduce yourself when her aftercare is over. Start again.

Once she’s healed, Lacey’s allowed to carry on with her life without interference—at least that’s what The Program brochures have told us. But I’ve never seen a returner go back to their old life. Or even want to. Whole sections of their lives have been erased; past relationships mean nothing to them. In fact, I think the past might even scare them.

Miller sneers at the thought of this new Lacey, the hollowed-out one. He wants her to remember him, what they built together. Both Miller and James think The Program is a fate worse than death.

Lacey had thought the same. The reason her own parents turned her in was that they found a bottle of QuikDeath in her room. She’d been planning to kill herself and had bought the drug from some burnout after school. Miller hated himself for not knowing. James and I often wondered if he would have killed himself with her.

When Lacey was sent away, Miller broke into her bedroom because he knew he’d be erased from her life—that we all would be. But when he got there, her pictures were gone, and so was her clothing and personal items. The Program had wiped the space clean. All Miller had was a notepad that Lacey had left behind in his truck. He kept it, hoping it held some small piece of her.

We sat by the river one afternoon and looked through Lacey’s handwriting, laughing where she drew pictures of our teachers in the margins. But soon, the notepad changed. The math problems dissolved into black spirals scratched into the paper with pen. Her mind was infected, and it was apparent through the pages how quickly the depression had taken hold. It’d only been about two weeks.

I hate The Program and what it does to us, but I also know that I don’t want to die. I don’t want any of us to. Despite everything, our school district has the highest survival rate in the country. So in some sick and twisted way . . . I guess The Program works. Even if the result is a life half lived.

James pulls up beside my window in his father’s beat-up Honda. He smiles when he sees me, but it’s too wide, too normal. He nods at Miller.

Your boyfriend looks worried, Miller mumbles as we watch James pull ahead to park. That’s never a good sign. James never worries about anything.

I don’t answer because I know it’s

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  • (4/5)
    More questions than answers by the end. Quick read.
  • (5/5)
    Brilliant! I was not expecting it to pack such an emotional punch, but man, did it ever. It is so chilling to think about a teenage epidemic of suicide! My father did it back in October, so I know all too well the ramifications of family and friends left behind. Suzanne did such a good job portraying that. The twist-- Sloane (the main character) and the other teens in this chilling world are being monitored for any signs of depression so they can't outwardly express their grief. I can only imagine not being able to cry for fear of losing all my memories. Because that is what happens to the teens who are deemed at risk of suicide. They are sent through the program, and while it erases the depression it also erases all memories from their life before. So, I can't decide which they mourn more, the ones who are gone through suicide or their friends or boy/girl friends that have gone through the program but don't remember them anymore. So sad! The dynamic of the characters was so well written and layered. Sloane and her boyfriend James used to run around with Lacey (taken into the program) and her boyfriend Miller. But James used to be a close friend of Sloane's brother Brady. So there is so much complex history and emotions driving their interactions. One of the scenes that really got to me was when Sloane injured herself just so she would be free to cry because she missed her brother who died and her best friend Lacey who just came out of the program and didn't remember Sloane or her boyfriend Miller. I adored the romance in this one. James and Sloane and their dynamic had me right away. I loved how they looked out for each other and provided the strength for the other when they were falling apart a bit, and glued them right back together. James is devoted and I was swooning all over him. Their teasing, banter, and loyalty had me cheering for them. Each part of this book hooked me in even more, and made me realize how much I liked Sloane's character. There are new characters that I didn't know whether to trust, and even by the end of the book I have no idea what their angle is on everything, and how this person will play into things in the next part. I love the line that if it is meant to be, it will happen. The first time I heard it I rolled my eyes, but I love how that is a theme, and the people that show up to prove that right, and things that happen more than once. I know that is vague, but I think that once you read it, you'll understand what I am talking about. It is so hard to review a book like this sometimes because so much happens that I want to talk about but, I also don't want to spoil anything. So I try to talk about what you can figure out from the synopsis or within the first couple of chapters. The pacing was amazing, and kept me in suspense waiting for the next bit of action, or seeing how the characters are growing. I loved this first book and will definitely be continuing this series. Bottom Line: Intense and emotional. I connected with Sloane and swooned over James.
  • (4/5)
    This is the first book in a series and one I've had on my tbr pile for a while. From the first chapter I immediately knew that this book is unputdownable. True enough, I ended reading and finishing it in one sitting, up to the wee hours of the morning.The story is divided into three parts and told from the pov of 17-year-old Sloane. She is in a steamy relationship with James, her late brother's best friend. But their relationship is haunted by the deaths that surround them and the growing depression they are feeling.. In their world, teen suicide has become an epidemic. To address this problem, the government has come up with The Program, an intervention that aims to rehabilitate troubled teens by erasing their memories in hopes of preventing suicide. However, kids aren't the same when they come back after undergoing The Program, they are like empty shells of themselves. And so Sloane, James and their friends try their best to conceal their emotions for fear of being forced to undergo The Program.Will they succeed, or will they end up without their memories?  Is Sloane and James' love for each other strong enough to make their hearts remember what their minds might forget?I really like how the author slowly unfolded the story, giving readers an inside look of Sloane's life before and after The Program. The concept of suicide being an epidemic is  disturbing, and yet this book gives an interesting perspective on this topic. Are we really addressing the root cause of depression and suicide, or are we just masking it with all the anti-depressant drugs in the market today?Much as I love the story and the author's writing style, I wish there was less "sex" in this book. This is my gripe with some YA novels these days - underage protagonists who are already sexually active. I don't want to sound holier than thou, but I'm looking at it from a mother-of-a-teenage-daughter's perspective. Yes, it's good that Sloane and James uses protection, but they are still underage. And that's why, even though I like this book and would probably read the entire series, I will not recommend it to my underage daughter. Maybe when she's older. I'm not judging parents who allow their underage kids to read books like these, I'm just saying this is what I've decided for my child. It's precisely the reason why I read YA novels, to see which age-appropriate books to recommend to my daughter.Anyway, there is a love triangle in this story as well - Sloane, James and Realm. And though I don't have a problem with love triangles per se, I do have a problem when female protagonists always fall for the bad boy. That is my other gripe with YA novels nowadays, girls chasing after boys who are complicated instead of choosing the stable, more responsible guy. I also don't like it when attractive female protagonists are treated as objects. Sloane is described as being pretty, and because of that she has to avoid unwanted sexual advances, even her boyfriend James treats her like an object in some scenes. The only guy who treats her with respect is Realm, of course she "friendzones" him. I'm clearly on Team Realm instead of Team James, but this is just the first book in the series. Who knows, my opinion might change, right?Nevertheless, as an adult reader, I enjoyed this book and give it 4 out of 5 stars. I'm reading the sequel - The Treatment, let's see if book 2 gives more info on why suicide has become an epidemic as this wasn't directly addressed in the first book.
  • (5/5)
    it was different from what i expected. but it was really good.
    however, based on the ending, i don't think i'm going to read the sequel
  • (4/5)
    For me, "The Program" was an intense, page-turner. One of those enjoyable books that gives you just enough information in each chapter to keep you wanting more.

    In the world of "The Program," teenage suicide has become a global epidemic. No one can explain it. It seems to spread like a virus from teen to teen. To fight the epidemic, schools constantly watch their students for signs and symptoms. If signs or symptoms are displayed, teens are forced into The Program. The Program is an intensive, mental ward-esque therapy plan, where no one returns with any memory of their life before The Program.

    Sloane, is a strong main character, and when she is forced into The Program, she doesn't go down without a fight. She doesn't want to forget her life, and especially her boyfriend, James, who she has an intense and mature relationship. She strives to find a way to beat The Program and remember.

    Suicide is a very heavy and serious subject. My initial concern was The Program would be dark and depressing. However, while it does take its subject matter very seriously, its more of a thriller and mystery.

    Overall, it was very thought provoking. It begs the question if depression suffers would be better off without memories. For me, it also skated around the days when forced lobotomies were common, and questioned freedoms and individual rights.
  • (3/5)
    The Program The Program was an unusual read that tackled the topic of teen suicide in a dystopian-like society. In this world, there is an epidemic of teen suicide and The Program was created to try to "cure" these teens and prevent them from killing themselves. In order to avoid being flagged and carried off to "The Program" by a handler, teenagers had to be very careful to show no emotion other than happiness and never draw attention to themselves. And these teens definitely felt that The Program was to be avoided at all costs, since everyone who returned from The Program was drastically altered, their memories wiped clean. I thought that the premise was interesting but too full of holes to be plausible. This story requires that the reader suspend a great deal of disbelief to accept the plot as it is presented. However, it was enough to keep me glued to the story from start to finish. The problem with the thin plot is that it makes the characters less than believable and even a bit annoying at times. The main character especially seemed like the proverbial "damsel in distress" always putting herself in positions where she needed to be rescued. Which brings me to the "almost" love triangle. Bleh. The positives were the relationship between Sloane and James and the suspense of the story. James was extremely likable, flaws and all, and I thought their relationship was sweet and tragic. I was definitely rooting for them against all odds throughout the story. The "other" guy was a bit too shady and he never worked for me as a possible love interest. I'm generally uninterested in the romantic aspects of books but in this instance, James & Sloane were a couple that made me want them to succeed. I was also pulled along by the suspense in the story, wanting to know what was going to happen, where the story was going to go, wondering if the MC would somehow overcome all of the obstacles against her. The Program, for all its faults, was an engrossing read. I don't know that I would describe it exactly as dystopian, but it had some dystopian-like aspects such as that all-powerful government that does what it wants with impunity. I would recommend this for fans of dystopian but with the warning that this is a bit different than what one would expect from that genre.
  • (5/5)
    The Program exceeded my expectations, especially after reading a lot of "meh" reviews! However, I can really see how this is only for certain people, and they should probably to be in a certain mood, so check out the other reviews to see if The Program is for you!

    The idea, a teen suicide epidemic, is a bit depressing, yet it really makes you think: What is happening here? Do the depresses teens really need their memories wiped? Is it for the best? What is The Program up to? Why is it happening? Is the Program the reason for the suicides? Also, as you continue, you get even more questions about the book!

    Sloane was a cool character, while she is not one I will rave about, I believe she was the perfect character for this story. You see her trying to stay strong, despite that almost everyone close to her, starting with her brother, is in The Program or dead. Also, I felt like screaming for her and James when they were just grieving and afraid of being flagged for The Program. It's not fair!

    James was also a great character, I especially liked the early memories with him Sloane and her brother that Sloane reveals later on. In the beginning, I wasn't sure how I felt about him, but the sweet early memories made me like him better. Also, it was interesting (and relieving) to see him at the end of The Program.

    The Program itself is right creepy. The parent's may think it is a miracle but the kid's know it is not. There is so much to learn about, and I can't wait to have my questions answers in the second book, The Treatment. The workers take memories, sometimes by force, and I believe everyone should have their memories... as long as they don't commit suicide... hmm. Also, there seems to be some flat out bad people working at The Program, with perhaps some good. Right now, however, I believe the bad is dominating.

    I also like how the book was divided into parts, kind of like: Pre-Program, Program, Post-Program. This made it fell like you were reading three different stories all connected, and I loved seeing how different things were. My favorite part was probably just the one in The Program, as you all know how curious and mad and suspicious I am at it! Also, I loved hearing Sloane's early memories, which made me love the characters more and grieve for what they lost.

    I thought the ending of the book was perfect, however I cannot wait to get my greedy hands on the second book, as you have seen first hand all my questions, suspicions, and inner battles. All I know is that I do not like The Program, and want to know what they are up to! Wow, I take books too seriously. Also, I want to see more of James. And, of Sloane's friend, Lacey. She seems pretty awesome.

    The writing is impressive too. While the words are not a masterpiece, they sucked me in and I especially loved how the author shows Sloane losing her memories. It feels... just... interesting for the reader. You see the same Sloane, yet different because of the slow deterioration of memories. Also, I thought the writing was powerful. And the dialogue felt very real.

    Overall, if you think The Program is for you, I recommend you try the book right now! The book brings up a lot of questions, vivid characters, a great romance, and a killer plot. I think this book earned a full 4.5 stars! That is a pretty high rating from me... so you know how much I enjoyed The Program.

    4.5/5 Stars
  • (5/5)
    Review courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick & Dirty: Very unique dystopian novel with interesting characters, wonderful romance, and a suspenseful plot. I would highly recommend this to anyone that is a Hunger Games or Divergent fan.Opening Sentence: The air in the room tastes sterile.The Review:Teen suicide has become an epidemic and no one knows why. They are blaming it on the overuse of depression drugs, but really they have no idea why hundreds of teenagers are committing suicide every day. There is only one known cure and that is The Program. Once you are committed they wipe all of your teenage memories away. You won’t remember your friends, your first kiss, the person you love, but you also won’t remember being depressed. Then you are slowly reintroduced back into society. The Program has a 100% survival rate and more and more teenagers are being sent every day.Sloane Jacobs is 17 years old and her older brother committed suicide a couple of years ago. They were so close and she never saw it coming. Then just a few months ago her best friend was taken into The Program, and Sloane didn’t even know she was depressed. The depression can set in so fast and Sloane can’t lose anyone else in her life. She has a hard time hiding how hard it has been on her to lose all these people she cares about, but she knows better than to show emotions in front of others. The Program is always watching and the only person she can really be herself around is James. He was best friends with her brother and he has been Sloane’s boyfriend for the last two years. They have promised to protect each other from The Program. But with everything that has happened and all the loss they have experienced the depression is starting to set in and there is only two options left for them. Either they die or they go to The Program.Sloane is a very diverse character. Throughout the story you get to see so many different angles of her personality, which made me really come to understand her. She is very strong, but she has had a lot of crappy things happen to her in her life. With everything she has lost you can’t blame her for being depressed, any normal human would be. But in the world she lives in depression is the enemy. To make it through this hard time she has relied on the only good thing in her life and that is James. But when he is taken away she has to start relying on herself. She grows tremendously throughout the story and I really liked her. She was easy to connect with and I am excited to continue her story in the next book.James is like a rock. He has stayed strong through everything that has happened, but rocks can break and James eventually does. The only things he fears in life are losing violet and going to The Program. He would rather die than lose all of his memories. I couldn’t help but love James; he is sweet, charming, and just a good person. He is such a strong person for not only himself but everyone around him and I really respected him. His relationship with Violet is pretty epic and I genuinely loved them together. James was a great love interest that was absolutely swoon worthy!This was a very unique dystopian novel full of emotion, romance, and great characters. The idea was so different from anything else I have ever read, which was very refreshing. The plot was very intriguing and kept you interested. The best part for me was how well the characters were developed; it made them easy to relate to. Which also made you feel more emotionally attached to the story. Young’s writing is so captivating and her style is original. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next book. I would highly recommend this book to any young adult dystopian fans, it will not disappoint.Notable Scene:I park outside of a farm and take out a notebook, writing down my feelings. I have no one to tell anymore—not one person I can trust. I’m so alone it’s like being dead but still conscious. In forty-five minutes, I’ve scribbled down so many words that they start to lose meaning.Kiss, death, love, loss … the words are crashing into each other, and my tears soak the page. Then I give into the urge to cross off the words, pressing harder with each pass, making large circles. Soon I’ve gone through all the pages and I’m digging into the cardboard cover. I press so hard it’s going through to my lap, scraping against my jeans. My skin. I press as hard as I can, and I whimper because it hurts. But I don’t care. I can’t care anymore.I wish I were dead.FTC Advisory: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster Book Group provided me with a copy of The Program. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
  • (5/5)
    Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyFans of the Delirium Trilogy, look no further than Suzanne Young’s THE PROGRAM for the next unbelievably heartbreaking dystopian. This book delivers a story with a deeply unsettling premise and a devastating romance. Powerful, provocative, and unputdownable.Dystopian fiction works only as well as the corruption that defines it. In THE PROGRAM, it’s the supposed cure for the suicide epidemic that is claiming the lives of one out of three teens. Teens are monitored for any kind of emotional outburst. If they cry or get mad or get ‘flagged’ for any number of reasons, they get dragged from their homes, their classrooms and shipped off to The Program. When they return six weeks later, it’s like the invasion of the body snatchers. They don’t look the same and they have had their memories wiped of ‘infected’ memories and people.There are countless wonderful and terrifying moments in THE PROGRAM including the achingly tender romance that grows between Sloane and James. Every moment is made all the more acute because it could be lost forever. There is a desperation about their love because they are each the only thing keeping each other from an increasingly irresistible death. Talk about epic.THE PROGRAM sucked me in with a frightening world and a with a hurts so good love story that is as tragic as it is wonderful. The is the kind of book that lingers. Beautiful writing, pain and passion mixed with near perfect results. I can’t wait for the next book in The Program series.Sexual Content:Kissing, sensuality, multiple references to sex. References to sexual misconduct
  • (5/5)
    The premise of The Program sounds (to me) no more interesting than a lot of books, but its execution is so potent, the author is so skilled at pulling on your heart while keeping you on edge, that I can't remember the last time I continued to read anything so late at night that I almost reached the black out state and still I didn't want to put the book down. Teen suicide has reached epidemic proportions around the world and the only way the government has found to deal with it is forced admittance into The Program for any young person deemed at risk, but when those teens come back to their lives they are hollowed out shells with no memories. Sloane and her boyfriend are tight and do their best to have what fun they can while staying safely under radar, but because they witnessed a tragedy they are under constant surveillance by the authorities who determine who enters The Program. Can love and a sense of self survive when the world is falling apart and it's unclear who to trust? To say the story is compelling is a gross understatement. There is enough of a wrap up at the end to satisfy, but I was glad to find out this is the first of a series because I can't wait to find out what happens next.
  • (4/5)
    The teen suicide epidemic has become so widespread that some cities are piloting The Program, where teens flagged as being "at-risk" are whisked away for six weeks of therapy. But when they return, their memories have been wiped and they don't remember their former friends or significant others. When Sloane's boyfriend James is flagged, she almost loses it, so much that her mother enrolls her in "The Program" a couple weeks later. There she meets Realm, a boy who befriends her, and tries to hold on to her memory of James. But after 6 weeks she's wiped clean and released back to her home. Can she remember anything of James and who she was?
  • (5/5)
    Wow. If you’re looking for something that will hook you and won’t let you go until the end, this is the book for you.Sloane lives in an alternate version of the U.S., where suicide has become an epidemic. The only cure is The Program. Kids are closely monitored for symptoms and tagged when they are thought to be at risk. That’s when they are taken to The Program. Sloane and her boyfriend, James, try their best to put on a brave face, but the painful memories of her brother’s suicide still haunt them. I was not expecting this to suck me in the way it did. I listened to nearly the entire audiobook in one day, almost in one sitting. It was riveting. Young’s characters are real and raw. Her plot twists were awesome, and her writing was engaging the whole time. When I began listening, I expected another dystopia that was a copy of all the others out there, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how great this book is. It took me a little time to get used to the narration. After I got into it, I couldn’t stop listening. She did a great job with the character voicing and the flow. By the end, I just felt like I was listening to Sloane tell me a story.I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves thrilling, twisting plots that also contain a dose of sentimentality. I’ll be picking up the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it.
  • (3/5)
    Suicide is an epidemic, this is different. I admit at first, I thought this was crazy but as the story unfolds, I became wrapped up in all the details. Sloane and James are few of the last teens not touched by the epidemic. They each have suffered much loss but they don't dare cry, to cry is to show that something is wrong and once that happens, they will lose everything. Slowly it becomes harder to cope with all the emotions, people close to them falter and succumb to the disease. It's spreading, and they are being watched. Sloane and James are on edge waiting to see if they will be the next one to be re-programmed.

    I think the situation is completely unfair to Sloane. How can the parents in this book willingly send their children off to these facilities that make them less of a person, unable to remember someone they once loved or better yet hated. I found this to be quite disturbing and the fact that the people at The Program take away the choice to seek treatment. It's just so weird how they come out of it so odd...like they are drones or something. I am curious as to what sparked the epidemic, why is it only being seen in teens? I also want to know The Program's motivations for administering the supposed cure and who came up with it?

    The writing is captivating to say the least. I never would've imagined a suicide outbreak could be believable but the writer has woven it in such a way that it comes off as plausible. The characters are emotionally developed and it is easy to identify with their situation. This is a good read about suicide and the affects it has on others. I would recommend this book to readers that are looking for a dystopian book that's emotionally twisted with a hint of mystery and romance.
  • (3/5)
    The Program The Program was an unusual read that tackled the topic of teen suicide in a dystopian-like society. In this world, there is an epidemic of teen suicide and The Program was created to try to "cure" these teens and prevent them from killing themselves. In order to avoid being flagged and carried off to "The Program" by a handler, teenagers had to be very careful to show no emotion other than happiness and never draw attention to themselves. And these teens definitely felt that The Program was to be avoided at all costs, since everyone who returned from The Program was drastically altered, their memories wiped clean. I thought that the premise was interesting but too full of holes to be plausible. This story requires that the reader suspend a great deal of disbelief to accept the plot as it is presented. However, it was enough to keep me glued to the story from start to finish. The problem with the thin plot is that it makes the characters less than believable and even a bit annoying at times. The main character especially seemed like the proverbial "damsel in distress" always putting herself in positions where she needed to be rescued. Which brings me to the "almost" love triangle. Bleh. The positives were the relationship between Sloane and James and the suspense of the story. James was extremely likable, flaws and all, and I thought their relationship was sweet and tragic. I was definitely rooting for them against all odds throughout the story. The "other" guy was a bit too shady and he never worked for me as a possible love interest. I'm generally uninterested in the romantic aspects of books but in this instance, James & Sloane were a couple that made me want them to succeed. I was also pulled along by the suspense in the story, wanting to know what was going to happen, where the story was going to go, wondering if the MC would somehow overcome all of the obstacles against her. The Program, for all its faults, was an engrossing read. I don't know that I would describe it exactly as dystopian, but it had some dystopian-like aspects such as that all-powerful government that does what it wants with impunity. I would recommend this for fans of dystopian but with the warning that this is a bit different than what one would expect from that genre.
  • (2/5)
    I suppose that, no longer being a teenager, I have a hard time returning to that stage of my life and remembering what it was like. Maybe that's why the intense depression these characters feel is so alien to me. Sure, I've had depressive periods in my life, but I've always known (intellectually at least) that life actually was good and that what was going on inside my head was just me. These teens really are committed to the idea that nothing is good, nothing can be good, and nothing ever will be good. However, I guess in this book there IS a disease causing suicidal depression, to the point where they manifest similar symptoms, so that probably contributes to their outlook.

    I think the question Young presents is an intriguing one: would you rather die than lose your memories? Would you send your son or daughter to have their memories erased, if you thought the alternative was death?

    I also think death is an important topic that needs to be dealt with, especially in our fiction. I don't think this book consists of a complete conversation, and that if your teen is reading this you need to be having the rest of the conversation with them. For starters: there are healthy ways to deal with and prevent suicide, and this book presents none of them. Crying isn't bad, and it's not only okay to grieve, but necessary to most people. People in the grip of depression (like these characters) need to not ignore their feelings, but find ways to focus on life. They need concrete goals that engage them in life, and support from their friends and family.

    SPOILER ALERT

    The main thing that stuck with me about this book was that the main character, Sloane, spiraled into depression when her boyfriend was sent to the Program and returned unable to remember her. She was unable to find any reason to keep "hanging on" at that point. I just couldn't understand that. She was so attached to her boyfriend that when he left, she had nothing left to live for. Her parents, her hobbies, her goals and dreams... none of that matters, or even exists, without her boyfriend. Sure, if I lost my husband I would be absolutely devastated. But I have my daughter, I have my family, I have my friends. And that's my HUSBAND. There's kind of a different level of commitment there that generally is lacking in high school boyfriends.
  • (3/5)
    ***SPOILER ALERT***

    My take: 2.5 stars, rounding up to 3
    Maybe it's because it has been a long time since I experienced teenage angst, as well as a teenage love affair, but I found this book to be very sophomoric. Yes, it is a Young Adult genre novel, but so is The Giver by Lois Lowry, and it is beautifully written.

    Romantic? Not really, unless you are 14 years old.

    Suspenseful? Not really, unless this is the first book you've ever read and have no idea what is going to happen.

    It is written to read at a fast clip, but I still found it to be pandering and redundant.

    There were some very real issues that I think the book could have tackled: Who is Realm, really? (I hope to know more in the sequel). Is there actually a suicide epidemic or is this merely common teenage angst? We all know that teens feel deeper and sharper, in part because of raging hormones, and have not yet developed the tools necessary to wade through these years. However, there did seem to be a mental issue that was somewhat contagious. And the fact that it has started to spread to adults by the end of the book was telling. I hope this is explored in the second (and final, from what I have read) in the series. I also hope Sloane's mother is explored more. She seemed to be complex and conflicted, and I would like to see how she comes to terms with what has happened in her life.

    All in all, because the story held my attention, and I am interested in the ending of the saga, I am promoting this one to 2.5 looks. However, Young had a perfect opportunity to explore a very real and serious issue and decided to make it a Harlequin Romance Junior instead.

    Can't recommend this one.
  • (4/5)
    Really pretty good book. Some emotional parts, some suspense... I look forward to future books in the series.
  • (3/5)
    Have to think about this one.

    A world where most basic emotions are forbidden. Grief, and sorrow are emotions that one that can get you put in The Program. The kids that are under 18 years of age, are under constant supervision always looking for one that might show sign of suicidal tendencies. When symptoms appear, they are taken to a facility where they are helped to rid themselves of the pain and are given a “fresh start”. Interesting right, well that’s what I thought too. So I gave this a go.

    This is where we are introduced to the main character Sloane. Her family has suffered a terrible loss, the suicide of her brother. She has managed to keep her emotions in check, and the relationship she has with James helps. The relationship between Sloane and James was a strong and sweet one. Sloane is a fighter and one head strong girl that’s for sure, she just wants to hold on to the memories. The memories that Sloane shares while in the Program shed some light on how they came to be and why she is so determined to fight it all. There were a few other characters that I was a little unsure of, but that is to be expected in the Program facility.

    The world building was terrifying one. Memories are something we all cherish, and having them taken whether happy ones or painful ones they are still ours to keep. So, the idea of memories being taken is something I couldn’t imagine. They come out of the “Program” like empty shells of person they once were, and they are just kids with what they are told is a “fresh start”. Almost all of them accept this and move on, but not Sloan and James. I have to say that I did like Sloane and James both, maybe it’s the rebel in me. There really isn’t any shortage of action, there is constantly a sense of fear and uncertainty of what was yet to come. It wasn’t hard to figure out who the bad guys were early on, but the why is what I want to know. Why is teen suicide an epidemic, and what led up to it? Is The Program really meant to help? I was somewhat satisfied with the ending, but I read the epilogue and now I just have mixed feelings. I think it would have been okay as a stand alone, but there will be a sequel. So, maybe some of the questions will be explored more. I feel the one thing that saved this for me was the bond that Sloane and James seemed to share, even with the memories being wiped, they still have a connection to each other.

    The Program is a definitely an interesting book, it had a intriguing plot and the characters were fairly likable. If you are looking something that get you all twisted emotionally, and a heart breaking romance, this is for you..
  • (1/5)
    Title: The ProgramAuthor: Suzanne YoungRelease Date: April 30, 2013Publisher: Simon PulseSource: Edelweiss DRCGenre(s): YA Dystopia, YA Science Fiction, Teen SuicideRating: ★☆☆☆☆Review Spoilers: LowUsually I like the books that I read. There are very few books that I do not like to some extent. Most books that I leave unfinished are not books I dislike but books that I just don’t have much interest in at the time. I generally finish all the books I start eventually because each one has some redeeming quality that I can latch on to and appreciate.And I suppose that remains true about the Program despite the fact that I rated it so lowly.Before I explain why I rated the book so low, I should begin by telling you a little bit about the plot. In Sloane’s world teenage suicide is a world-wide pandemic. Teenagers everywhere – for whatever reason – are increasingly depressed and prone to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. The adults of the world have been driven to drastic measures and require teenagers to attend mandatory therapy in school, fill out daily surveys about their feelings, and constantly be wary of the watchful eyes that are always on them. ‘Handlers’ walk through school hallways looking for any sign of depression or sadness and if you look too sad they may tag you and take you away to The Program.In the program, they cure you. But their cure is not some sort of in-patient therapy. It’s a complete memory wipe. Well, at least a partial one. Nothing else has worked so they decide that they have to take away the sad thoughts and the bad thoughts entirely… along with anything else that’s happened to them in the period of time that those bad memories and thoughts developed. Understandably, Sloane and her friends are determined to avoid losing everything that they think makes them who they are. They don’t want to lose their memories. They don’t want to lose their relationships – their friendship, their relationships, etc. And so they rebel against the system and do their best to survive until they are eighteen and can avoid being sent away to the Program.I liked the characters and I found them all to be rather compelling. I liked Sloane, James, and Miller. Their friendship was something tangible and real. They had a lot of little things that meant a lot to each other. I also liked the way Miller reacted to losing his girlfriend to the Program’s memory wipes and I felt for him and the others as he kept desperately trying to reconnect with her.Other than that though?I felt very uncomfortable throughout the entire book. These kids obviously had some problems. Sloane herself is depressed after losing her brother to suicide and she did things like burning herself intentionally. Despite feeling depressed she and her boyfriend lie and pretend that they are not. I thought maybe in this world there was some sort of explanation where the Program was some sort of lie and the teenage suicide pandemic was some big lie by the government to control kids. I figured that would be a plausible explanation.But it seems like the whole teen suicide thing? It’s really real. Like, it’s an actual problem. There are kids all over the world killing themselves at an increasing rate and no one seems to know why. Therapy doesn’t seem to work. Once the kids are taken over by the depression it’s not long before they are trying to commit suicide. Like, it’s an actual problem. Some of the kids – Sloane included – may have been pushed to the whole depression thing by the idea of losing their memories if they were too sad. But for the most part the book seems to admit that it’s a problem.So, yeah, the Program is very serious and I don’t know if I would agree with it but it seems to be a genuine response to a genuine problem. So all the fighting back against the Program and all the psyche evaluation just seems like angsty teenagers with real problems refusing to get mental health treatment that they actually do need. And that was what really bothered me. The book applauded these kids for hiding their problems. It seemed like the kids who actually had problems and admitted to them and got in-school counseling were fine. It was the kids that hid it all and who needed immediate intervention who went to the Program. And sometimes the parents or the school was way too overzealous in pulling people and sending them away but still.All I got from this book was that these kids were pissed at the way the world was and the fact that they couldn’t just be depressed and go off themselves as they liked. Meanwhile the rest of the world was desperate to find a way to deal with a pandemic that was killing off people left and right. I’m not defending the Program and the fact that it wipes these kids’ memories but at the same time I understand how society would have gotten to that point if literally no other treatments were working with so many of these kids and they were all going around killing themselves. It’s like… I’m sorry they decided to erase the last three years of your life but what happened in those three years is why you tried to kill yourself or you were depressed and removing those memories has saved your life so… It sucks but you get a second chance, right?I don’t know. I understand why the kids were upset but I just felt uncomfortable about the anti-mental health treatment vibe I got from the book as a whole. It doesn’t seem like the right message to be sending teenagers.
  • (5/5)
    In Sloane and Jack's world, the idea of teen angst could literally get you locked up. Rebelling, talking back, crying or anything that most normal teens experience will get you flagged and hauled into The Program by a teacher, a parent, or even another student. Daily questions, observations and routine keep the teens in line, but for James and Sloane they are anything but staying in line, both hide the stress knowing that once in The Program, memories and emotions are erased and what comes back out is a blank slate of the person who once was.As a couple they hide the tears and grief they have suffered over the loss of friends, siblings and the pressure to remain emotionless daily. They hide the intensity of their relationship even when it borders on desperation and rely on each other for intimacy and strength. Secretly the only time they cry or even show real feelings is when they are alone and no one is watching. An unexpected suicide of a friend pushes James over the edge and unfortunately for them, someone is watching. As each day seems to get longer and each day seems to be harder to hang on to, James and Sloane try desperately not to get caught, but the once small cracks are deep fissures that lead them straight into The Program.I loved the intensity and passion of this book, and even though the subject centered around tragic issues of teen depression and suicide, they were not the main focus in the story, after the last page it came down to a story about love and the extent one could go to save another. The whole concept of love being stronger than the grave- the idea that even with our minds erased, our bodies ravished, the heart knows what the heart wants.Young brought to the surface many thought provoking concepts and while a few (Sloane and Jack's love, Sloane's emotions) stay strong, the idea of the teen suicide virus or what was driving the plaque seemed to fizzle out once the actual program is introduced. Instead of a deeper look into what the virus was or is, we see the main character manipulated to give up her memories, and they take precious memories, not ones that would cause depression, but the ones that made Sloane happy. made her who she was. The reasoning left me irritated and while I love where this series is going and very much enjoyed the writing I did have issues with the why and why-nots of the cure itself. Hopefully the idea behind the program and the whys will be answered later on.I highly recommend The Program to readers who love dystopian or science fiction drama. Id even go so far to say readers who love the tragic, never gonna tear us apart love story's would enjoy.
  • (5/5)
    The Program was an incredibly, good book! I love when a book surprises me or just blows me away. There was a little bit of everything, which is what I look for in a book. The romance was excellent, there were times were I was smiling so big or just laughing out loud. I honestly could not put this book down till I finished reading it.I absolutely adored the name Sloane for a girl, I thought it was pretty unique. Sloane and James were amazing to read about and I love how their relationship started. James was just adorable and I hated to see the change in him after he went through The Program. I have very mixed feelings about Realm, he seemed to really be genuine but still has some stuff about him that I haven't quite figured out.There is a lot of sadness in the book, but the way things work out in the end, made it so beautiful. I'm looking forward to reading the next book and see what is in the future for Sloane and James.”
  • (5/5)
    AH-FREAKING-MAZING...review to come
  • (4/5)
    I don't really know how to feel about this book. I really enjoyed the premise and the characters, but I felt like I had more questions at the end then I did at the beginning.
  • (5/5)
    This was one of the best books in this genre I've read in a long time. Holy moly! Suicide is an epidemic, sucking teens left and right into deep depression before taking their lives. Nobody knows where this virus has begun or why it infects only teens under the age of 18, but it does. Those who show any signs of infection are quickly carted off to The Program. After their friends all succumb to the depression, Sloane and James fight The Program.The Program is rooted in such an original idea, that I couldn’t help but get sucked into the story. I can’t rave enough about Sloane and James. Without spilling the beans about the ending, I will only say that true love can only be the thing with enough power to find their way back to each other.
  • (2/5)
    An average example of the young adult dystopia genre. Here suicide is an epidemic and the government(?) controls treatment. Gets a bit confused at points about whether all the depression is from Mystery Cause or whether it's caused by the threat of draconian treatment adding ridiculous pressures to the teenage population -- which would be pretty understandable (and seriously how are there apparently no parents saying 'You know, our kid just lost a brother and a bunch of friends, how about maybe they're justified in feeling a bit overwhelmed about being psychoanalysed every time they begin the schoolday?'?????) and yet by the numbers this treatment does appear to be reducing suicide so way to spread mixed messages. Also many unanswered questions about who benefits from the apparent corruption; perhaps to be followed up in the next book, but it turns out I'm not that interested.
  • (4/5)
    I really liked this book. It took me a little bit to get into this book and to understand what exactly was going on, but once I got a few chapters in, I took off and read the rest in two days. I liked Sloane and James together. They were a good couple with complementary traits. It sucked what they had to go through, but I guess that is what makes the book good. The treatment for the suicide epidemic is severe, but goes along well with the plot line of the story. Overall I give this four stars simply because it took me a few chapters to really get into it, but worth reading. I even had to tell my mom to stick it out for a few chapters, and then she really started getting into it too. But she will write her own review.
  • (4/5)
    Dystopian fiction is fun, the romance was cute, and the story was catching. I really loved this and went straight for the sequel (very glad I found it after the sequel had already come out). The only downside was the science behind erasing memories just wasn't there, otherwise I thought it was fascinating.
  • (5/5)
    [The Program] is a way to prevent teenage suicide which has become an epidemic. That is they way THEY sell it but is it really? Sloane and James do not believe it. Neither so the other teens. They have seen Returners and they are not the same, they are missing their memories.[Suzanne Young] has created a compelling look into the future. The story keeps you wanting more. Luckily the sequel The Treatment is already out.
  • (4/5)
    I thought this book was good, considering the subject matter. At first the constant talk about suicide was a little disheartening, but after the initial shock I was able to really get into the book, and enjoy it much more thoroughly.
  • (5/5)
    I'm in love with this! I finished it in three days, and only because I had to work and study, otherwise I would have binged so hard. Can't wait to read The Treatment!