Thursday, May 9, 2013
The Program by Suzanne Young
Simon Pulse, 2013
Source: Received a copy through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
This title has been on my radar for a long time as an intriguing take on teenage suicide although I wondered how it would be drawn out and built up into a full-length novel. As I was reading, I told some people about how weird this reading experience was and I struggled to formulate my thoughts. I hope to do better in my review here with the caveat that there are some spoilers.
I think my first problem is the world. In this future world, there is an epidemic of teen suicide. The solution seems to be to put any teen who cries a lot or may be depressed into the program which strips them of their memories and emotions, leaving them alive but as empty shells. All of the adults think this program is the best thing ever: it keeps their children alive. I didn't believe that everyone would be so in favor of this program because the way the kids return renders them vastly different. What parent would be happy with that outcome? I don't see how they would think it was worth it.
The second problem was the overall point of this book. I expected exploration of depression and reasons for suicide. I never really felt like I got that and the ending seems to turn this book more into a rising up against the evil government kind of dystopia. It was a rapid change of pace to me and I didn't think that the previous pages had spent enough time setting us up for this kind of story. For the most part, it felt like a meandering contemporary romance.
As for that romance, well that's the third problem. The main character Sloane begins the book in a relationship with James. Both are sent to the program where their memories are stripped and their relationship is forgotten with Sloane starting up a new relationship with someone else. Yet those memories are not fully excised, setting Sloane up to fight to get those memories back through rebellion. I didn't feel the romance either way but the second guy is pretty sneaky and repulsive.
Overall: I found myself unable to connect with this book, kept back by banal characters and nonsensical plot turns.
Other Opinions-I seem to be in the minority for this one:
Blkosiner's Book Blog
Heise Reads & Recommends
Katie's Book Blog