By Suzanne Young
I read some very good reviews of this book from fellow bloggers, and so put a hold on it at the library as soon as I could!
Here is the Goodreads summary:
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is 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.
I was really interested in this idea, but the book wasn’t quite what I thought/hoped it would be. Maybe I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I hoped the book would address this epidemic of teen suicide. I really wanted to know what that was all about, since it was supposed to be the reason The Program came to be. But this is, of course, the first book in a series, so I’m sure there will be another book that delves deeper into that.
As for the characters, I have to admit that I didn’t really connect to any of them. I tried to like Sloane, I really did, but I just didn’t feel like there was anything about her that drew me into her story. And James came across as controlling and possessive. Maybe I misread something or am just really dense, but it was a bit much for me, almost creepy. And speaking of creepy, I just could not care for Realm. He was way too overbearing for me, and all those times that he and Sloane slept in the same bed, while she told him that she wasn’t into him romantically, were just strange. Is it just me?
The only character I was super interested in was Lacey. I’m glad she was in the book more towards the end, and that she will likely be in the second book more, too.
I think my main issue was that I struggled to get into the story at first. It was just such a heavy, sad book. Sometimes that really works for me, and in this case, it just didn’t. I think that’s because I kept waiting for things to happen, and so everything that came before Sloane’s encounter with The Program felt like a lot of set-up to me.
I also struggled at first with The Program and its means of ‘curing’ teens of depression by removing memories. This just struck me as really odd and wrong, and pretty insensitive, but the more I read, the more I suspected that that was what Young was going for (especially since the treatment didn’t really seem to work). Once I started viewing it that way, the book really picked up for me, and I liked the second half a lot more than I liked the first half.
So while it took a while for me to get into the book and it wasn’t one that I fell in love with, it really picked up for me about halfway through, and the ideas intrigued me enough that I am looking forward to reading the sequel!