Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Sunday, January 12, 2014

Plot Summary:
A new epidemic has stricken the world and its victims are the youth. Teens are committing suicide at alarming rates and parents, and lawmakers, are at a loss. However, with the establishment of The Program, teens are being rehabilitated and cured. The problem with this program, for Sloane and James, is that The Program doesn't just cure victims, but erase their memories. After losing her brother, Brady, Sloane is trying to keep it together. With the help of her boyfriend, James, she is doing her best to not show any emotion and that everything is all right. However, when she learns that her best friend, Lacey, has been released from the Program, Sloane is on the verge of a breakdown. Furthermore, Miller, who is also a good friend, and boyfriend to Lacey, is devastated that Lacey does not remember him and that leads to another tragedy that not only sends Sloane on a downward spiral, but James falls further. All this time, James has been Lacey's rock and lifeline. If James falls apart, she and James will not only be picked and sent to The Program, but their memories will be erased and all of the precious memories they have made will be lost forever.


Critical Evaluation:
This is first, and foremost, a story of love set in a time of chaos and tragedy. Although this topic may not be the best setting for most romances, this is definitely one of those stories that will stick with readers until the end. Sloane is an extremely brave young woman who is faced with a dilemma that most adults can barely handle. Not only did she witness her brother's death, she is forced to watch James fall apart in front of her eyes. In many ways, Sloane is completely unaware of her strength and when readers learn actually see that strength they will be amazed by her resolve. Granted, in the beginning, Sloane was completely dependent on James because she made him promise her that everything will be okay, but, alas, that was a promise easily broken. James, the stereotypical hottie, was Sloane's brother's best friend and readers will wonder if the romance between James and Sloane is based on guilt rather than love. Although Sloane and James constantly state otherwise, the power of their love is revealed in the end of the story. The most frustrating aspect of this story is how weak all of the parents, teachers, and mentors are in this story. For example, Sloane's parents, who never got over the loss of Brady, are in no position to be the supportive parents that Sloane deserves. Rather than thinking of their living child, they have left with no tools to cope with Brady's death and that is why Sloane has put all her faith, energy, and strength in James to keep her whole. However, every human being has their breaking point and Miller was the straw that broke the camel's back. Rather than slipping into her misery, Sloane made a conscience choice to be the one who keeps both her and James together the best she can and it be will her, alone, who will save their love. I really wasn't expecting this story to have the twist that it does, but there is a sequel to the story and reader's will have to wait to see what happens to Sloane and if she and James can escape The Program.    

Information about the Author:
According to her blog:
Originally from New York, Suzanne Young moved to Arizona to pursue her dream of not freezing to death. She currently resides in Tempe, where she teaches high school English. When not writing obsessively, Suzanne can be found searching her own tragic memories for inspiration.

Suzanne is the author of several books for teens, including THE PROGRAM, A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL, and A WANT SO WICKED. Friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @suzanne_young. 

Genre:
Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up
 
Books Similar to The Program:

Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com

*STARRED REVIEW* "Readers will devour this fast-paced story that combines an intriguing premise, a sexy romance, and a shifting landscape of truth. With big questions still unanswered and promising twists, this first volume in a new series will leave readers primed for more."
(Booklist)

*STARRED REVIEW* "With this powerful psychological drama, Young contributes a unique, attention-worthy standout from the crowd of young adult dystopias."
(BCCB)

"For lovers of dystopian romance, this gripping tale is a tormented look at identity and a dark trip down Lost-Memory Lane."
(Kirkus Reviews)

"The uncomfortable mix of the good intentions and horrific outcomes of The Program is chilling, and will likely haunt readers as a slightly-too-plausible path adults would choose to “save” their teens."
(The Horn Books)

"Young's book is unrelentingly emotional and dark . . . [and] confronts readers with questions about whether the past or the present defines a person, while make[ing] a strong case for the value of all memories, good and bad."
(Publishers Weekly)

"[A]n entertaining, and compelling read."

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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