The Program Series by Suzanne Young- A Review- 5 stars!
Today's tea choice is: Matcha with honey!
Please note: Book 1 and 2 are the main story. The other books feature different characters and plots within the same world.
Trigger Warning: Sexual abuse, mental illness, suicide
Genre: YA Dystopian/ Science Fiction
Pages: Book 1: 405/ Book 2: 353
Summary( book 1, Goodreads.com): 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.
What I Loved:
We thought COVID 19 was bad, but can you imagine suicide being contagious? The worst part is this isn't caused by a virus that eventually has a cure or vaccinations. The leading scientists in the country couldn't understand why suicide was spreading. This is what initially caught my attention. I love that the author chose a different direction for a mass infection, something mental and something that affects us all.
To start, the characters were excellently written and described using the show-don't-tell technique. They are flawed and realistic, even at times funny, instantly reminding the reader of friends you might've known in high school. At times, the main character Sloane can be a bit apathetic, but that's the main point since the suicide epidemic only affects teenagers.
The setting was a careful balance of just enough detail without being overly descriptive. I pictured the hospital and Wellness Center easily without the details bogging down the plot, something many writers forget. Only the essential descriptions were used, focusing more on the action.
Pacing and plot were also written well. Each chapter progresses the story forward with no filler or over use of backstory. This was one of those books that read like a movie. I pictured everything clearly and wanted more each time a chapter ended!
Lastly, the romance was sweet, flawed, and very realistic. I love how Sloane and James had a foundation of friendship before getting together. They like to joke and tease each other, which reminded me of my relationship (Love you B!)
Minor Disappointments Include:
Unfortunately, this story does have major triggers including suicide, mental illness, and sexual abuse. Those who are sensitive to these topics shouldn't check this series out. Sometimes, the scenes were so heartbreaking.
One cliché was used that I cannot stand: which boy do I love more? I really believe this sends a bad message to young adults about playing with other people's emotions. It's important to set clear boundaries in a relationship.
Authors Can Learn:
- the importance of carefully crafted setting details
- creating realistic yet flawed romance
- Utilization of first person POV to create authentic experiences and emotions.
- Each chapter must have a purpose
- No more cliches!
- How to show emotion instead of telling. (see link above)
Readers Can Learn:
How do we handle mental illness today? Do we treat it appropriately with critical medical care? Do we ignore our darkest issues until it's too late? These are the questions proposed in this beautifully crafted novel.