The Program was one of my Beat the Backlist challenge books, since it’s been on my TBR list since 2014, and it really hit home for me, so it actually took me a while to finish the book even though I loved it.
The Program is set in the not-so-distant future in a world where suicide has become an epidemic. Those under the age of 18 are closely monitored for signs of “infection” (aka: depression) and if they are displaying the signs, they are taken to The Program, where their memories are erased and they are “cured”.
Seventeen year old Sloan lost her older brother to suicide, which makes her high risk herself. All Sloan wants is to make it to 18 so she doesn’t have to worry about The Program anymore – to her, losing her memories of her brother, friends, and boyfriend is a fate worse than death.
When Sloan ends up being sent in for treatment, she vows to fight every step of the way.
I really loved The Program, and the concept when you think about it is incredibly sad for so many reasons. The thought that anyone under the age of 18 basically has no control or say over their own minds, memories, and thoughts is horrifying. They are expected not to grieve for losses because otherwise they might get flagged for being sick. They have to live their lives walking on eggshells and hiding their emotions. In addition, the thought that anyone could intentionally change/remove someone’s memories against their will is terrible. That seems like such a violation, I can’t imagine living in that constant fear that something like that would happen to me!
Now, I’m about to get a little personal. The topic of suicide hits really close to home for me, and in the beginning of the book, one suicide is retold through memories and another happens in real time. I cried through both. I was diagnosed with depression in 2003 and started medication for it, and in 2007 when I was 17, I attempted suicide. I can relate to the feeling of complete and utter hopelessness that makes you feel like ending your life is the best option. In addition to my own suicide attempt, I’ve lost two friends to suicide – one in 2006 and one in 2015, so I can also understand how helpless and guilty you feel when you learn that a friend took their own life, so through the first part of the book I really related to the characters in every sense of the word, and I kept getting super emotional about it and taking breaks from reading. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but overall am doing well and am in a good place, so no worries there in case you were wondering.
Okay, so enough about me and back to the book. Aside from the book being written really well and triggering a lot of emotions in me, I loved the characters. I adore Sloan and her boyfriend James. They had such a cute relationship and I loved how it felt like they were only completely comfortable and open around each other, and no one else. My heart broke with they both went thorough The Program and had their memories altered. The book leaves off on a little bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m dying to read book two so I can see what happens with them! I have a lot of unanswered questions, and I’m hoping everything gets wrapped up in the next book.
Overall, I adored the book and recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the YA genre. There’s some action, lots of emotion, great friendships, a strong heroine, and great romance! It was a 5 star book for me!
**I hope you guys didn’t mind me sharing my story with you all – it felt important to talk about given the nature of the book. Have you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!**