The Program by Suzanne Young
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-fi, Romance
Published by: Simon Pulse
Series: The Treatment (#2)
I started to read this book because I’d recently finished the currently available 2 seasons of iZombie on Netflix. I LOVE iZombie, it’s just incredible and I couldn’t recommend it enough. After all the medical sci-fi, I decided it was finally time to read The Program which has been on my TBR for ages. In short, it definitely reminds me of YA from 2013. It’s a little too romance heavy and insta-love is a real issue. I was really intrigued by the first 50 or so pages, but after procrastinating from continuing for almost two months (due to BTAT2016 and university reading) I was losing hope. I finished it…eventually, though! Here are my thoughts:
P L O T
Suicide is an epidemic. Under 18s are killing themselves left, right and centre (something to do with hormone imbalance, or whatever) and the only way to prevent the teenage population from flatlining the Program was invented. The Program rehabilitates suicidal teens, erasing their memories so they no longer have to live with the pain of life.
Sloane’s older brother killed himself and it’s left her feeling empty. Part of that hole is filled by her love for James (her brother’s bff) but after the deaths of their two closest friends both James and Sloane are losing hope and they will do anything to not be a part of the Program.
Okay, so suicide as an epidemic is one of the most interesting sci-fi plots I’ve heard in a while. I could compare the dystopian vibe to Rebel by Amy Tintera, which also focuses on lack of emotions. The book is split into three: 1. pre-Program, setting up character relationships, 2. inside the Program (because there’s no other way this could’ve gone) 3. being released into the outside world again.
C H A R A C T E R S
Sloane was your typical Mary Sue. I don’t feel like we got to learn a lot about her, apart from the fact she’s really connected to her brother and loves James more than anything else. So she values the people around her. Good. But I honestly don’t think I could pick out any of her other traits. Like so many others before her, she tried to be the Katniss Everdeen, but was actually the Bella Swan.
James is just your typical Hot Guy. He’s protective and all of the things that a girl is ‘supposed’ to want in her love interest. To be honest, I found him a very changeable character. He was on Sloane like a rash at some times and others he was distant and non-responsive. (There is one PARTICULARLY PROBLEMATIC scene where I’m pretty sure Sloane gives him a blowjob in exchange for him saying he loves her. *cough* SO UNHEALTHY *cough*)
The final main main character is probably Realm and he’s a bit of a tricky one to pin down. He was very interested in Sloane very quickly, which put me on edge straight away. Also, he was the reason for the awkward love triangle and terrible insta love so…
R E L A T I O N S H I P
Obviously, I’ve already mentioned some of my concerns, but the main thing is that the couple is fully formed and in a ‘solid’ relationship when the book begins. I guess it made me realise that I really prefer watching two people fall in love rather than joining a relationship mid-way through. However, for this particular story to work you need them to already be together so it has some sort of resonance when they’re inevitably separated. You do get flashbacks into past memories of their romance, but for me that just wasn’t as satisfying as seeing the first bloom. And I’m not counting their re-falling in love (or whatever you would call it) because it’s explained away under certain pretences. (Can you tell I’m purposefully trying to be vague??)
Also, the way that the men in general treated Sloane was just disgusting. She was a thing. And everyone was taking advantage of her fragile mental state and this didn’t seem to be a big deal for her. I wanted Sloane to be 110% angrier about the whole thing. I mean Realm is hitting on her when she’s in a mental institution (or thereabouts) how is that okay??
P A C I N G
My last point, is that I found myself getting a bit bored. Seriously. It was too predictable for my liking, and by the half-way point I didn’t really care too much anymore. I still haven’t quite worked out what the point of this novel is. It sets up these two characters asa couple, splits them up, reunites them and that’s about as far as the ‘rebellion’ side of the story goes. Then there’s a quick dash ending and a Epilogue focused on a new characters which adds up to a very confused Bee.
V E R D I C T
I probably will read The Treatment considering this is only a duology and I feel I may as well even though it’s probably all going to be a genetic experiment like it always is. I’m calling it now. In the next book, I also bet we’ll meet a character called the Commander or something along those lines. I mean, the best thing the next book could possibly do, would be to defy genre expectations, but we’ll see…
4 thoughts on “Review: The Program by Suzanne Young”
I’ve been desperate to read this book. Your review doesn’t make it sound do good though
I had the same thoughts when I read the book. I really wanted to like it but I had some trouble with the characters and the relationship AND I didn’t like the way this world portrayed mental illness. Did depression morph or something?
I enjoyed it at the time, but it wouldn’t ever be high up on my list of good books. I read it while in a reading slump and it helped me get out of it.