Monday, 6 May 2013

Book: The Program by Suzanne Young

Worldwide teenagers are becoming more and more depressed and committing suicide, it has been declared an epidemic. The Program has been designed to help sufferers, but is help worth having your sense of self erased?

I was a little nervous about this book at first, because of the content and how reading it may effect me, but I am glad that I read it, it is incredibly powerful, moving, and, surprisingly, hopeful.

At first I had a little difficulty determining whether or not Sloane was male or female, and by the time I figured out she was female for definite I had decided that it didn't matter. I also found it slightly confusing about how Sloane's brother, Brady, and his best friend (and Sloane's boyfriend), James, were in the same year at school but older, it made a lot more sense once Sloane told us that there was 11 months between her and Brady, making September and August workable birth months. 

This story had the real potential to be a downer, with all the characters being depressed and the ending turning out bad for someone, but though there were definitely bad events that happened in the novel, there was always an underlying idea of hope. At first it was the strength that James and Sloane gave each other, then it was the idea that even if you are completely erased and don't remember your past, if you love someone, whether romantic love or friendly love, you'll be drawn to them again and can recapture how you felt (even if you think that you are just capturing it!). This is particularly noticable with Sloane, James and Lacey post-Program (though you only hear about Lacey pre-Program, you don't actually see her).

In some ways the plot is a little predictable, it was obvious from the very beginning that a certain character was expendable and would commit suicide (which was necessary from a plot point of view for James, and then Sloane, to be committed to the Program), and the ending was partly predictable in relation to who chose who.

Differently  from most young adult dystopian fiction, the love triangle wasn't really a love triangle. Sloane loves James, she did before the Program, during the Program, and sort of after the Program, in contrast to Realm who when she is with, she feels guilty, there's never really any choice, and I don't think that the characters even think that there is a choice. The relationship between Sloane and James also feels really real, there's the plastic heart ring that has no value but has sentimental value to them, there's the place by the river, there's a lot of shared grief, instead of being a one dimensional relationship it was all there, it was all believable. 

This book is worth a read, definitely, and despite the subject matter, I actually came away from reading this feeling good, as I said before, in my eyes this book is all about hope.