23 May 2013

Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

The Program (Program #1) by Suzanne Young

Published: 30 April 2013 by Simon Pulse

Pages: 416 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Dystopian, Romance

Source: Publisher for review


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.

My Thoughts

I've been so disappointed by YA dystopians lately that I've been purposefully avoiding them.  So often a book sounds amazing and then when I start reading it falls into every single trope and most of them aren't even done well - love triangles, insta-love, poor world building - all things that make me want to cry with frustration.  But The Program was a book that I'd been hoping would prove to me that not all is lost in the YA dystopian genre....

Although The Program is a dystopian, the world itself is quite contemporary and I really liked that blend.  It made the characters much easier to connect to as they had such normal teenage lives for the most part, and although The Program was quite a large shadow over them, everything else felt normal and natural.  And it's not that I don't enjoy a good total dystopian immersion, but it's different from what I've read recently and felt a little more fresh.

One thing I wasn't expecting from The Program is the strong focus on the romance between James and Sloane - and as they are already in a relationship when the book begins, it means that there's no insta-love between them.   I liked Sloane, she's tough, determined, loyal and quick-witted which doesn't make her completely unique but enough to have me cheering her on.  The relationship she has with James is quite passionate and feels pretty realistic, and although there are some points that it becomes a little obsessive and possessive, as a character James pretty much charmed me enough that I didn't dwell on it too much.

The plot itself is a little on the predictable side, but the world-building fits the tone of the book perfectly - I never felt like I was being info-dumped and there's a good balance of disclosure and mystery that will keep me interested in the next book.

I recently read Just Like Fate, which Suzanne Young co-authored with Cat Patrick and I can see some similarities in how the romance was written and it's definitely got me curious about reading more of Ms Young's work as she does a good job with making romances feel realistic.

There's a lot more I could say about The Program but the synopsis is pretty sparse and I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but if you like YA dystopians that are heavier on romance than normal, I can definitely recommend The Program.


  1. I've always though that this book's subject matter is interesting but i'm a bit worried that it wasn't executed well. I'm a romance junkie, but I don't really like it when a book strays away from the excitement because of it. I really enjoyed reading your insight!

    - Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

  2. Oh good. I was kinda worried I was the only one who was feeling that way about YA dystopias, which is such a shame because it's one of my favourite genres. Then again, I think I'm just getting burnt out on YA anyway, so maybe that has something to do with it.

    Have you seen the movie "Equilibrium" with Christian Bale? Cause this sort of sounds like that, only for a much younger audience. I'm not one for romancey stuff but I do dig the concept here.

  3. Yay for no insta-love! I've been looking forward to this one, so I'm so glad it's living up to the hype. A contemporary-ish dystopian with a strong romance? I'm all over it.

  4. I haven't read anything but Suzanne Young but I'm curious about The Program because people seem to generally like it. I'm not really a dystopian fan but I like that you mentioned the world is contemporary. I'm glad it didn't disappoint you overall!

  5. I'm not such a fan of books with the focus on romance, but this doesn't sound too bad. At least there is no insta-love and the characters sound great! :)

  6. Eeeeep! I have been looking forward to this one for a while. I absolutely cannot wait to read it.

  7. Hmm, I am confused about this one now. Yay for no insta-love, contemporary-dystopian blend (pretty curious to see how that works actually) and a romantic side to it. But at the same time, I'm worried about some unrealistic situation (obsession etc) and the predictable plot. Hmm, decisions, decisions. Thanks for the review, Kat.



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