Book Club: "The Program" by Suzanne Young
The hard cover’s dust jacket is stark white with two teens hand in hand, backs to the viewer, in yellow scrubs. With the dust jacket off, the fresh faced teens are facing forward. They both, however, are utterly miserable looking.
There is a plethora of hate-able characters in this angst- filled book–though it is difficult to separate the person from the situations they’re put into and how they survive to the best of their abilities.
James. Some things never change.
Sloane’s parents. UGH!
Suicide is at epidemic proportions in the under 18’s. So The Program has been invented to ‘save’ at risk teens.
Sloane’s picked for The Program; she endures and assimilates.
Things are never as black and white or clean cut as the ones in power would like.
I don’t know if I was in a bad head space when I started reading this book, or the book triggered a bad head space, but I do not recommend it for anyone with mental illness. It is far from a happy book, and by the end, I was ready to let my black dog catch me.
Perhaps some parts hit a little too close to home. Perhaps it was the parents and society using medications and ‘reprogramming’ instead of listening and using alternative preventative measures to treat their teens.
“I bet she looks beautiful,” my mother says. “The returners always look so healthy, don’t they Don?”
Kids help line http://www.kidshelp.com.au/ 1800 55 1800
Life line http://www.lifeline.org.au/ 13 11 14
This cover is the perfect representation of the book. So far it’s been my favourite cover over all. The image of Lyla and James in yellow uniforms staring down a white hall represents the feeling of the book well.
James: He showed the most emotions and things that I wanted to feel as a reader trying to identify with the characters.
Sloane: I couldn’t connect with her or her family.
Suicide rates have been rising and the school systems are implementing new programs to help them cope with the loss of loved ones but also to keep those survivors alive.
With suicide now an international epidemic, Sloane knows her parents will do anything to keep her alive. Everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Their depression is gone—but so are their memories. The only person Sloane can be herself with, is James. They are both growing weaker, depression is setting in, and The Program is coming for them.
What I liked about the ending is that it gives us hope for the 2nd book in the series. It leaves us with the sense that there’s more out there to discover.
I had a hard time getting emotionally invested in a story in which all emotions are suppressed. Everything is so depressing. Mourning is not allowed and the actions that the parents and teachers take were very outlandish in my opinion. What I did appreciate about the book was the ending and the hint at an even bigger idea that could really take this story to exciting places.
“I’m so alone. It’s like being dead but still conscious.”
“It’s like I never existed. We had so many secrets together and now they’re just mine. The weight of them is too heavy for me to carry.”
I absolutely LOVE the cover on this one, for so, SO many reasons! First off, the white background: I like how it looks so clean, bright, and it makes the yellow suits REALLY stick out. Besides that, I also like that we can’t see the models’ faces. I’m just so tired of book covers where faces take over the entire thing! I feel like it ruins the character for me because the face on the cover doesn’t look anything like I imagine the character to look.
There were quite a few characters in this book that I despised, and one or two that kind of grew on me.
This one is tough…I had such a hard time connecting with characters in this book simply because the way things worked in this world, and how EVERYONE just went right along with it, and never thought to question anything. If I REALLY (and I mean REALLY!!) had to pick someone, I would have to agree with Bel and Krista, and go with James. But I would also have to pick Sloane. Why you may ask? Because of their feelings and because they seemed to be the only ones to recognize just how wrong this entire situation is.
Where should I start? Sloane’s parents? For goodness sake! Your child is being dragged away to this crazy place, which will completely wash out some of her memories! She will be stuck there for weeks under drugs. What else has to happen to her for their parental instinct to finally kick in?
The beginning of this story and the way this society runs is what suckered me in reading The Program: a world without emotions? How is that even possible? With brain washing and lots of drugs, I guess. Sloane and James (her boyfriend/brother’s best friend) are dealing with the lost of Sloane’s brother. But that’s pretty hard to do when you can’t express any sort of grief and when there’s threat of being sent to the “looney bin.”
Sloane is picked up and brought to the program. She doesn’t know what happens inside, but Sloane does know that the people who come back from The Program are cleansed and cleared of any sort of emotion. The majority of this book follows Sloane’s journey through The Program and the difficulty of dealing with these memories she can’t remember but somehow knows, after she gets released.
I don’t actually want to say what happens in the end, but this was definitely my favourite part of the book. Like Krista said, there is a little bit of hope and insight into the second book, The Treatment. And just Bel said, things aren’t always what they seem. I couldn’t put it in any better terms than Krista and Bel did.
Overall, the story was interesting. Some of the characters were frustrating, but a few did grow on me. I liked The Program, but I did struggle a bit getting through it. I listened to it on audio (which may be why I was struggling my way through the story) and felt that some parts were just dragged out. When Sloane was in the program, I just felt like this part took SO long, and SO many things said seemed to be repeated over and over again.
I do plan on picking up The Treatment, but before I do, I will be reading The Program in physical form again, instead of listening to it on audio.