The Program by Suzanne Young
Seventeen year old Sloane lives in a world where her peers are dropping like flies. Teen suicide has been declared an international epidemic, and drastic measures are being taken. Teenagers who exhibit signs of depression are forcibly committed into the ominously-named Program, where doctors bleach out their brains until all the “bad” memories are gone, leaving the patients empty and unable to remember their former lives Any Dollhouse fans here? It’s kind of Dollhouse meets Girl, Interrupted meets 1984.
I wasn’t huge on this book when I first started it. As someone who’s very familiar with the inner workings of mental health programs, The Program is total science fiction. It was difficult to keep reading at first, if only because I couldn’t get over how unrealistic it is. But that was before I got to the real story, which isn’t about curing depression. The Program is about totalitarianism on a small scale. The Program seeks to have complete control over its patients. Any who resist go right back in for more brain bleach. Anyone, even your own parents, might turn you in to The Program.
Secondarily, it’s very much a love story. Both Sloane and her boyfriend James go through The Program, and Sloane spends most of her time there fighting to keep her memories of him. I gotta hand it to Suzanne Young; I’m normally not one for romance, but this story held my interest and had me rooting for the two of them.
This book is just fascinating on so many levels. If you’re into science fiction, read it. If you’re into romance, read it. If you’re into a realistic depiction of an us-against-the-world mentality I know a lot of us have/had, read it.
I’ll tell you guys about its sequel, The Treatment, once I pick it up.