Review of The Program by Suzanne Young

Word of Mouth Review of the Program by Suzanne Young

The Program by Suzanne Young

Published by Simon Pulse
on April 30, 2013

Book summary from Goodreads: 

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.

Welcome to my new, end-of-year feature, Word of Mouth Reviews

I'm trying to make my 200 book Goodreads goal, and I'm going back to some books that I passed on as ARCs or immediately after publication. First, I will interview myself about why it took me so long to read this book:

  • How Long Did it Take You to Read This Book: Over a year! I had a chance to get an ARC back in October 2012, but I passed on it.
  • Why? I wasn't sure the book was for me. Dystopian fatigue. And I didn't love the cover.
  • What Made You Change Your Mind? The book was getting great reviews!

My Review of The Program by Suzanne Young

I enjoyed The Program from the first page to the last. I was immediately drawn into Sloane's world -- a world in which suicide has become a teen epidemic. 

As a result, teens are watched carefully for any sign of depression or unusual behavior. Sloane, whose beloved brother killed himself, is deemed at high risk. But Sloane has her boyfriend James and close friends Miller and Lacey, so she'll be okay. Or will she?

Before reading The Program, I thought the book was a straight dystopian, but now that I've read it, I'd call it more of a creepy medical thriller. And I don't think I've read many (any?) creepy YA medical thrillers, but I'm all for the idea now. 

The book's premise is that an oversupply and overuse of mood stabilizing drugs permanently changed the bio-chemical make-up of an entire generation of kids. As a result, these teens are more prone to suicide and need to be carefully monitored. 

At first, sending kids to the Program seems like a well-meaning way to help them, but it becomes pretty clear that is not the case at all. I'm still not sure what the real purpose of the Program is, but I'm curious to find out.

I loved the way that the book set up a gripping  "Us vs. Them" paranoia between kids and adults. Which, if you think about it, is a perfect set-up for a YA book. The book also raised some very interesting philosophical issues raised about love and grief and memory. 

Could erasing a bereaved or depressed person's memories make them happy again, or are our memories what make us …. us? I thought a lot about these things as I was reading.

Finally, The Program is a love story. The way this love story played out was very interesting, with lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way. And it's still playing out, because The Program isn't the end of the story. Because I've been so slow to read The Program, I won't have nearly as long to wait for….

The Treatment, coming out in April 2014.

Have you read The Program? Tell me what you thought in comments! 


  1. The Us vs Them mentality is a great aspect-perfect for YA. I don't know though, this book really didn't do anything for me.

  2. This was a really surprising book for me. I expected a regular Dystopia, but it was actually far more original! Plus I liked how the bad guys were more sinister and manipulative, rather than caricature villains. It made it more of a thriller, like you said.

    I can't wait for The Treatment either! :D

  3. Everything I've read about this book makes me more and more excited to pick it up myself. YA does not have enough medical thrillers, so I am all for trying one. The "us versus them" mentality is an inherent part of the teenage condition, and it sounds like the author's ability to incorporate that theme makes a sterile setting more relateable. And finally, philosophical issues? Sign me up. I love a book that makes me think. Thanks for solidifying my anticipation for this novel - you just moved it to the top of my 2014 TBR.

    1. Oh, and I just saw your "if you're a new follower, please let me know" request, so I thought I'd say that I just followed you on GFC. :)

  4. This book was so much fun to read! Even though it was all kinds of sad and heartbreaking. I think it was because of the unconventional way she set up the romance. Perfect!

    And that epilogue! Yikes!

  5. Great idea Jen, I like your new, end-of-year feature I Finally Read This!. Glad you got the chance to pick up The Program and enjoyed it. I haven't read it, but it sounds great with the medical thriller and romance.

  6. I just started listening to the audio this morning, mostly because like you said everyone raves about it so I finally decided to get to it! Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. I need to read The Program! All the reviews make it sound so good, and I like that it seems to be deeper. I've never read a medical thriller either. And wow, 200 books is really impressive.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  8. I can see what led you to put this one aside originally, but I definitely think the cover for the next book is more intriguing.

  9. Yeah, I need to read this as well! When I read your headline, I laughed!!

  10. I haven't read this one yet! I love this feature idea btw. I passed on it too because I didn't think it would be for me but honestly, reading your review, makes me want to read it.

  11. I haven't read it, or heard of it until just now! It sounds fantastic! What a great review!

  12. Ooh, creepy medical thriller. I'm intrigued. Honestly, I never considered reading this since it looked boring (That cover is just soo plain!) but if you liked it, I might give it a shot some day! :)

  13. I still have this one to read too. I'll get round to it eventually! It sounds good, glad you enjoyed it ☺

  14. I just ordered this from Book Outlet a few days ago and now I'm more excited than ever to read it!

  15. Um, I adored this book. I named it the best book of 2013 and my absolute favorite of 2013. Anyone who hasn't read the book, must read it ASAP. I also got an e-ARC of The treatment and that one was also super good.

  16. I reeeally want to read The Program! I initially heard bad things about it (mostly that it was boring) and it cropped a lot of 3 stars. But since then, I've heard so many GOOD things about it. Gosh! I'm just going to have to read it myself. ;)

  17. This one is one of my favorite books. Loved everything about it and can't wait to read the sequel. Glad you liked it too.

  18. I loved The Program too! I have an arc of The Treatment that I will be reading soon and I can't wait. I don't normally read dystopians, but this one sounded too good to pass up. I'm glad I read it because it didn't seem dystopian at all! I loved Sloane and James. I am also curious about what the real purpose of the program is.

  19. It's so funny the reason we pass on books- I passed on The Scorpio Races for so long because I had the impression that it was about horse racing in the desert. Finally, Steph from The Fake Steph Dot Com wore me down, because I couldn't have been more wrong about what it was about. I loved The Program, and I did read it as an arc. I'm very excited to read the follow up! So glad you enjoyed it!

  20. I've been meaning to read The Program for a while now. I have the second book, The Treatment, as an eARC so I'll be getting this one from the library sometime soon and reading them back to back. I'm hoping I'll like it. I think I'll be going in with realistic expectations so that should help.

  21. I enjoyed the "Us vs. Them" aspect, reminded me a bit of The Darkest Minds, except without the special abilities. Glad you loved this was such an intriguing look at memories and suicide and their connection. Can't wait to see what you think of The was an excellent follow-up to this book.


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