2013, Simon Pulse
Series: Book 1 of 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.
The Good: Sloane and James are so perfect. They felt very realistic, especially given their situation. Even seeing beyond just what Sloane could understand and remember, I could never really decide how I felt about James, The Program, or Michael. I wavered constantly, fully invested in how things played out. The premise was interesting, and realistic - to a point. More elaboration on the epidemic itself could have helped believability, but The Program seemed a perfectly normal governmental reaction.
The Bad: I really wish Young had gone more into the how and why of the epidemic itself. Why teens? Why suicide? I also wanted to know more about the inner workings of The Program, beyond what Sloane was experiencing. It seems like we may get something along those lines in the sequel. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.