Series: The Program #1
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date Published: April 30, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Audiobook Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
Audiobook Narrator: Joy Osmanski
Description: 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 was really interesting and great about this story is despite the tragic backdrop, there is hope and true love. This is a society where teen suicide is an epidemic and the government created The Program to “cure” at-risk teens by erasing their memories. Some teens would rather “terminate” than be taken in by the program and be erased, so you get this world where The Program is supposed to be helping but it is hurting as well.
Our main character is considered high-risk because her brother killed himself in front of her and her boyfriend (her brother’s best friend). They try to help each other through it, and they love each other “madly” but when another close friend terminates, her boyfriend gets taken in and ends up in The Program herself. We watch as she loses bits of herself during her treatment and she comes back as shiny and new as the other returners. We get to see just how twisted and corrupt some of The Program’s handlers and doctors are.
Our main character manages to hang onto one memory, and after her return she starts to piece together the lies she is being told and finds the hidden truth. I really liked the aspects that showed the personality of the returners ultimately did not change, even if their memories were wiped. For example she befriends her former best friend upon her return. But the most wonderful part that brings hope to the otherwise dark book is the love story between our main character and her boyfriend. Despite both being through the Program and being erased, they still find each other and realize they’ve done this before.
I wasn’t super impressed with the audio narration. This story would have been a much more emotional read if I was reading it with my eyes instead. I mean the topic is about teen suicide. There should be so much more emotion and pain when characters die or get taken in and come back wiped. There are some scenes that should have felt more exciting and fast-paced. Also, the narrator’s voice doesn’t change that much so all the voices sound kind of the same.