Review: The Program {Suzanne Young}

In Sloane's world, feelings are forbidden. Teen suicide is an epidemic and even the slightest emotional outburst can get you sent to The Program.

Sloane's parents have already lost one child and she knows they'll do anything to keep her alive, even if it means using The Program to 'cure' her.

She knows better than to cry in front of people or look sad, because when someone gets sent to The Program they come out a blank slate. Their depression is gone, but so are all of their memories.

The only person she can be herself around is James. He's vowed to keep them both safe and out of treatment. But despite the promises they've made to each other it's getting harder to hide the truth. The Program is coming for them.


The Program is both a heartbreaking romance and a psychological thriller, based around a plot with endless surprises.

The book is split into three sections: pre-Program, The Program and post-Program. The first section of the book left me emotionally drained, because it was just so gut-wrenching. Sloane and James have both lost so much; friends, family and now they could even lose themselves.

Try to imagine a world where suicide is meant to be contagious and the only solution is to erase chunks of people's lives. The feelings of dread and sadness that slowly overtake Sloane and James, stealing who they are, left me wondering throughout whether this was because suicide really has morphed into some kind of disease, or because the looming threat of The Program and having their identities erased was just too emotionally stressful. I think it's great Suzanne didn't force one or the other – she left it up to us to decide.

Amongst all this the shinning light in this story is the relationship between Sloane and James, which goes beyond simple romance. Their love is palpable on every page and it was wonderful to read about two people caring so deeply for each other. Their relationship was heartbreakingly desperate, but also filled with fun and sweetness and a strangely endearing charm.

The second part of the book launches us into an entirely new setting and, in a sense, a new story. I was curious how exactly The Program wiped people's memories and loved the way Suzanne executed that. Instead of them strapping people down to a chair and doing some kind of operation, what they actually did was something more gradual and manipulative. Something far more sinister. 

I was practically screaming at Sloane during those parts, begging her to realise what was happening. The way she slowly transforms, losing pieces of herself, was fantastically done. Suzanne Young did a great job of fading away parts of Sloane's character, but also showing the parallels between her pre and post Program.

However, I will say I really wasn't a fan of Realm (his character was quite prominent while Sloane was in The Program). I found him manipulative and dreary and I really didn't connect with him, which is strange because I got the feeling this was a character I was supposed to like. Instead, I feel like he made the book drag.

The anticipation and suspense are constant and I was devouring the pages, anxious to get to the bottom of things and find out what was going to happen. Young writes a seamless story with captivating characters you can't help but care for. It's an intense and emotional read that's both endlessly engaging and uniquely executed.

"I'd bet my life that we've done this before, because I can't imagine that I wouldn't have fallen in love with you the first time."


Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.


  1. I've been really wanting to give this book a try :) I've heard great things about it and I find the premise very interesting! Great review.

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  2. This is one of my favorite reads of 2013 and your review just makes me want to read it again! Do you think we were supposed to like Realm? I couldn't stand him and I agree with you about him making the story drag. Although he did redeem himself a little bit on my eyes once Sloane got out of The Program and he was more helpful.

    1. I did get the impression that he was meant to be a sympathetic / redeemable character! Glad I'm not the only one that couldn't stand him though. He kind of seemed like a pointless plot device (especially with his 'feelings' for Sloane). I would have rather he'd have been just a platonic friend or something, because I think his feelings for her meant he did some really annoying / manipulative things that just made me roll my eyes.
      You're right though; he definitely redeemed himself later on! But now I'm wondering about what's going to happen with that pill!

  3. I've heard quite a bit about this book. It seems to have a lot of positive reviews, so I'm going to try and get it from the library! I might even ask my book club if they're up to reading it. The premise sounds too interesting to pass up.

    1. Definitely push it on your book club, because it's SUCH an interesting one to discuss & debate about!

  4. I am so happy to see this got a good review from you, I have it but keep putting it off because it is kind of intimidating to me, length-wise. That doesn't seem to be an issue though, the pacing sounds fantastic!

    1. Ohh don't let the length faze you! I didn't even notice it was quite long - it gets right into the action!

  5. I finally got this and can't wait to try it out. December is sort of a slow book month, so I hope to have time!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. December's slow for me too - I haven't been reading a lot. Buuut I did buy some great audiobooks, which I listen to on the way to work / during work. It's my cheaty way of still getting some reading done lol.

      I hope you do end up checking it out, it really is a great story!