Sloane’s brother has committed suicide and Sloane’s parents will do anything to stop her falling victim to the teen suicide epidemic that is sweeping the world. Even if that means sending her to The Program where teens are sent for a treatment course that wipes all their memories.
My review is going to seem contradictory as I’m pointing out lots of negatives but at the same time I couldn’t put this book down. I had to keep reading to see what happened next.
My first criticism is that in this world, you can’t show emotions. You have to bite your lip and bury those feelings down inside you as deep as you can push them. Probably while building up an ulcer for the future at the same time! And what would make a teenager be more emotional than being told they can’t show emotions? Plus if you push down emotions, they eventually have to explode like a volcano, messy and destructive.
Also in The Program, your memories are wiped clean and this seems to equate with now being depression free. However, depression is caused by a chemical imbalance rather than the events in your life so wiping the memories would not mean an instant fix. And if you did, then what is to stop new experiences causing fresh bouts. And surely, a lack of memories would be very traumatic and likely to cause further depression and anxiety as has been shown in amnesia victims.
Even with these flaws as I have already mentioned (twice!), I couldn’t put this book down. I think you are probably getting the picture that despite everything, this was still a good reading experience. I was like a fish at the end of the fishing line being slowly reeled in. My choice was gone. Even though I kept noting plot holes, it didn’t detract from how readable The Program is.
The plotline feels unique and the pace of the book worked well. It is split into 3 sections; pre the program, during the program and post the program. I enjoyed the format, it built up momentum for the story arc. Sloane was a little bit of a weak character (but still likeable) as we didn’t learn a lot about her apart from feelings about The Program and her feelings for James and her family. As for James, I loved him. He is not the typical YA character, he feels real. He is not the perfect boyfriend or the typical bad boy. He is just normal. There were a number of other characters that I enjoyed too and some I want to know more about.
So as you can gather, I had lots of problems BUT I still feel it deserves 4 stars. I know my review reads more like a 3 star review but trust me I still loved it. My first thought when I was finished reading was, I hope I don’t have to wait too long for book 2. And I have no problem recommending this book to those who like dystopia novels just be aware that the world building isn’t perfect.
Thanks to Pulseit for allowing me to read this book for free. A review was optional.
Bookish Chat : Are you critical of worldbuilding? I used not to be but I have gotten more critical since reviewing. If the characters and writing are of high quality, the worldbuilding isn’t a make or break for me though. What are your thoughts on it?