The Program

The Program

The Program

by Suzanne Young

Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: April 30th, 2013
by Simon and Schuster




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.


The Program is a really interesting combination of two of YA’s biggest current fads: dystopian novels and a focus on taboo issues, mainly teen suicide. While this combination was a risky if not extremely ambitious, somehow Suzanne Young managed to pull it off.

…Some things are better left in the past. And true things are destined to repeat themselves.

The Program is set in the future when suicide is considered an “epidemic.” Anyone showing symptoms of suicide or depression are taken away to the Program – the only cure for suicide – only to come back with their depression gone, but their memories extinct.

Our story follows 17-year-old Sloane, whose brother was recently committed suicide. The only person Sloane can truly be herself with is James – her boyfriend, who assures her that –

Despite these promises, both Sloane and James are having trouble concealing the depression that’s starting to consume them both, and it’s not long before they’re taken to The Program itself.

Sloane was a decent enough protagonist. While I can’t say she was completely memorable in the midst of thousands of other dystopian protagonists, she was well-developed and kind enough to give me a reason to invest in the story.

Where The Program lacks is in the world-building. I found it hard to believe that the United States government – a government and a country founded on the core beliefs of equality and justice – would set up a program like this. Furthermore, I found it even harder to believe that none of the adults in the country questioned what was going on and that they would so willingly turn in their own children to get this “cure.”

The slight lack of world-building only lowered my enjoyment rate by a little; but I still would have liked a little more information on the backstory of how everything came to be.

The Program certainly didn’t disappoint me, but it definitely didn’t exceed my expectations either. Or maybe I’m just reading too many dystopian novels for this to be of enjoyment…


3 thoughts on “The Program

  1. How disappointing, I’ve seen this around and was interested in reading it, but after your review summarizes it as another romance masked as a dystopian, I don’t think I will pick it up. You’d think in such a depressing world that things would be more important than love (just look at hunger games) but apparently not. Great review Zoe!

    1. Thanks Jeann! 🙂
              Yeah, I agree. I’ve had enough of those – I don’t need another one!
              Exactly! The world – and the book as a whole – had so much potential; and it was so sad that potential was wasted because I really did enjoy the story!
              *sigh* Oh well… 🙁

  2. I loved your review on this book, but you did such a great job on the review, I feel it is not a book that I would enjoy, maybe too depressing, I enjoy reading more fun and entertaining books, so thanks for the good in-sight . Job well, well done!!!!

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