Review: 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.

I picked up with the intention of only reading the first chapter to see if I’d even be interested in this series, and the next thing I knew I was halfway through the book! Just in case you needed an indication of how addicting this book is. If I hadn’t had a headache the day I started this, I know I would’ve read the entire thing in one day.

The entire premise of this book is fascinating, and a little scary. I mean, if the government decided to start up a program like this one to “cure” teens who are suicidal… well, I wouldn’t want to live in that world. Even though I’m long from being a teenager, it’s still not a kind of world I’d want for anyone. However, it does make for an interesting read, especially following Sloane who isn’t necessarily depressed, but does experience sadness from losing her brother to suicide and one of her best friends to The Program. But, any outward signs of sadness could get Sloane sent to The Program, so she has to act as normal as she can until she turns eighteen. Then, she’ll be free of The Program’s clutches.

“He said that some things are better left in the past. And true things are destined to repeat themselves.”

The characters in this were fantastic. Even the ones I hated (everyone involved with The Program, and Sloane’s parents) were written well. I mean, I wanted to punch those characters straight in the face, but that’s a sign the writer did her job with these characters. I could feel Sloane’s anxiety about wanting to stay out of The Program, because anyone who comes back is a shell of themselves; half their memories erased from their brains. When she was all alone and couldn’t fight back against what was happening to her, I was getting so angry on her behalf.

James is such a strong character. You can feel his anger for The Program radiating off of the pages, but at the same time, when he’s with Sloane, he’s the sweetest being. He has a great sense of humor as well, where he acts cocky, but you know he’s doing it to be a ham, not arrogant. I loved James and Sloane’s relationship in this and hope to see it continue in the next book.

So, yeah, there’s a next book. There’s technically six books in this “series” but it’s a string of duologies focusing on different characters. So that’s fun. And you can bet that I started the next book right away and went through the first 100 pages like it was nothing.

If you’re a fan of any kind of dystopian books, especially ones that are more contemporary than sci-fi, this is a book you’d enjoy. My only regret is that I didn’t pick up this book back in 2013 when I first saw it at the bookstore.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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