Wednesday, 23 October 2013

THE PROGRAM

The Program by Suzanne Young

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.
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This book got off to a really slow start for me. We know Sloane's going to end up in The Program - if she doesn't, there's no book. Well, maybe there's a book, but it's not called The Program - but this doesn't happen for 120 pages. Now, I know that a lot of stuff revealed in those 120 pages is important to the plot later on, but come on. That's just too long to wait for the inciting incident.

After that, however, it picked up considerably. The section where Sloane's in The Program was my favourite. I even cried at certain points. The only problem I had with it is that the way in which The Program removes the memories seemed really implausible to me. It just seemed ridiculous, but luckily I was distracted by everything else that was going on and so after my initial reaction of huh, well, that's stupid, I just sort of went along with it all. 

But then Sloane got out of The Program and had to try and reintegrate back into ordinary life. I was really grateful for that, since the slow beginning had convinced me that this was going to be the first book in a trilogy with no real story, just set-up for the next instalments, but then I started to get a bit annoyed with it. The problem is that I, as the reader, know exactly what's going on, and it was kind of boring to watch Sloane try and figure it out. 

But then I got to the epilogue. Now, I hate epilogues. I am of the opinion that there is never a need for one, that they're pointless and annoying and really just shouldn't exist. The epilogue here works. Really works. In fact, it saved the ending of the book. I was so irritated and frustrated by the turn the book had taken in the last chapter or so, but then I read the epilogue and all was forgiven. It really is a great example of how epilogues should be used and how to do them properly. So kudos to Suzanne Young for that.

Overall, I liked more of the book than I didn't, although my review doesn't seem to reflect that. I was wrapped up in the story despite the numerous issues I had with it, and, for a while at least, I was really rooting for Sloane. In fact, my only big issue here is that I've just discovered there's a sequel. And reading the synopsis on Goodreads, it seems I may have completely misunderstood the epilogue. And now I'm annoyed. And confused. And thinking that it sounds quite a bit like Scott Westerfeld's Pretties. So I'll be interested to see how that works out.



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