Review - The Program by Suzanne Young

When a friend pitches a reading recommendation with the words, “You’ll sob uncontrollably,” I’m usually a little weary of what’s in store for me.  With trusted words from friends, and a 3.9 star review on GoodReads, I was prepared for my heart to be seized with emotion, to flutter with romance, and to be gripped by longing for more!  Well, I was gripped with longing alright.  Longing for a better story. 

When Sloane and her hunk of a boyfriend, James, are faced with the crippling epidemic of depression and suicide, a fate that reaches 3 out of every 4 teens, they’re taken on an emotional journey through minds under the influence of this devastating disease.  Met with the ever influential power of The Program, they fight for themselves, each other – and the memories they’ll do anything to protect.

Suzanne Young talked about gorgeous themes in her novel: depression in young people, suicide, and broken families.  Ms. Young brought me through the tragic tales of this epidemic and how society was handling it, from Sloane’s heartbroken family, to the zombie-like patients in The Program.
I thought the writing was beautiful, and the way she showed life after The Program was very unique.  And the way she brought her characters through their assimilation back into society was done amazingly. 
You’ll love the characters, and you’ll hate the characters.  Many times I had to put my bookmark in place and just sigh into my hands, maybe shake my head.  Character development was great, I got to know the characters.  Some a little bit too intimately…but that’s okay. 
Another great theme is…you guessed it…sex.  Yes, sex can be a confusing thing for teens, and those suffering from depression.  Young touches on it more than once, and I think it was grade A+ of her to do it. 

Ugh, okay.  To me, the emotions were played out as cheesy, almost like she ran out of words to say someone was sad.  That’s not to say that the emotions aren’t happening, or to discredit them, but how many times can you compare depression to a black spiral without it getting boring?  There’s many, many more heartfelt ways to explain it without making it seem trivial or like it’s being made fun of. 
James is like any other pretty boy heartthrob; cocky, blond-hair, blue-eyes, rock hard abs, and ‘looks good naked’.  Can you spell GENERIC?  Cause I can, I mean really.  If I’m gonna fall in love with a character, I need to know that they have more sides than a piece of paper.  Some characters are very 2-D.  And maybe this is a fancy metaphor for how you can never know who your real friends are.  But, I ain’t haven’ it.  

So if I have to give things a letter grade, because let’s face it - I’m shallow and like to make people feel bad – we can use this nifty checklist I’ve created:

Voice – 80/100

Grammar – 90/100 (contraction mistake on page 142)

Plot/Themes – 110/100 (extra credit, yo)

Characters – 70/100

Total: 87.5/100, or a B+

Read this book!  I wasn’t sobbing, so my friend’s a lair.  But still.  It’s the first in a series, and I’m anxiously going to wait for the others.  You’ll learn a lot of the character’s internal struggle, as well as something about yourself.  Maybe that you aren’t alone.   The Program by Suzanne Young.

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