by: Suzanne Young
Sloane lives in a world where no one cries. Not because they don’t want to cry when they see a friend and classmate being dragged out of school, but because no one dares to cry. Crying is a sign that you have depression, and that means you need to be taken too.
Set in a world where teenage suicide is classified as an epidemic, everyone wants to make sure that the disease doesn’t spread. Teens are under constant surveillance for signs of depression and ANY sign gets you landed in The Program. The only proven treatment.
Sloane has seen the kids who “come back” from The Program and something is wrong with them. Their minds don’t really come back at all. They say The Program helps, that it takes away your pain, but without the painful memories that help shape you, are you really you?
This is a solid story. It deals with surprisingly heavy themes for a YA novel and handles depression in an age-appropriate way. In the real world, there is no Program that wipes your mind, but there is still a stigma about depression, and sufferers often feel the need to hide their emotions and pretend that everything is perfect.
There is almost a cardinal fear of mental health disorders that scares the mass populace, and throughout human history, the mentally ill have been treated in horrible ways. Still, the general populace is not portrayed as villains in the novel, they are scared, they think they are helping, and that makes the Program scarier.
Sadly, the sequel does not hold up, it turns into every teenager become freedom fighters to take down evil government story that Hunger Games made popular and has been rehashed WAY too many times. but The Program is a good stand-alone story well worth a read.