Is there a word stronger than love? Infatuation? Obsessed? Crazy over the top awesome? Basically all those words sum up my feelings on The Program. It has everything I look for in a great book. Amazingly compelling characters, a strong, well thought out story, excellent writing, and that great concept of fate and what it means. It reminded me of Delirium from the get go(a little less dystopian in my opinion) and it has quickly become one of my favorite books. And what gets me is that I was in no rush to read it. Sure I had it on my to read list for a long time, but it is hard keeping up with all the books. I figured I would get to it when I got to it. Lucky for me Pulse It was offering a free on-line read so I went for it. Yup, insert HAPPY DANCE! And what exactly is this amazing book about? Well I think I’ll tell you. Because honestly, the description by the publisher, doesn’t really do it justice. I’m apologizing right now for any spoilers. If you don’t want to know, stop reading now.
The Program is the story of Sloane, a very normal 17 year old girl. She has friends and a boyfriend, James, that she is desperately in love with. She goes to school, does her homework and tries to show nothing is bothering her. Because if she for one second shows even an ounce of sadness over some of the losses she has had in her life she will be sent to The Program where all her memories will be erased and she will lose everything that means anything to her. But as things begin to spiral out of control and Sloane starts to lose everything that matters including herself she learns just how far she’ll go to fight for what she loves and just how powerful love and fate really is in a world where emotions are monitored.
You know, what I think I liked about this book was the two questions it posed without actually saying them out loud. 1) Is there such a thing as fate/meant to be?, and 2) What came first The Program or depression epidemic?. I found both ideas to be really compelling and intriguing and really the back bone of the whole story. And as much as I liked that idea, I liked question number 2 even more because it got down to the basis of it all. These teenagers were terrified of The Program and because of that they were terrified to feel. Holding in emotion can only lead to one thing and that is a completely melt down. Because they couldn’t feel it was so easy to get down about things. You weren’t allowed to grieve a death or be sad because of a fight because if you were you would be called depressed and immediately flagged. I couldn’t help wondering the whole time I was reading if The Program did exist because of the depression or did the depression epidemic exist because of The Program? Both of those concepts really fascinated me the whole time reading.
I also really liked the main two characters and a few of the secondary ones. Sloane and James were by far my favorites. They carried my interest right from the get go. They had lost so much but had each other and that was enough for them to get by, for a while anyway. But life got in way as it often does and circumstances took over leaving them pretty lost and alone. But even when they are somewhat on different paths their connection is always in the background tethering them together. It’s really quite brilliant and beautiful. And although Realm was a bit of an interloper, to me anyway, I actually didn’t mind him and got his purpose to an extent. I will freely admit to hating Sloane’s mother. She really irked me. But again I got where she was coming from so I tried to cut her some slack just because the unknown is scary. But I wanted to shake her a few times and tell her to wake up. I wanted to tell her it was okay to let her daughter feel down and it didn’t mean she was going to commit suicide. It wasn’t the feelings that was causing these teens to kill themselves it was fear of The Program. But alas I couldn’t so I cut her some slack.
Basically I loved the whole flipping book, if you didn’t get that from this rambling review. It gave me all the book feels that a great book should and it has stayed with me for a long long long time. Young created a story a love story is what it comes down to, but not the same old love story you are used to. She took the saying “if it’s meant to be it will be” and crafted a witty, intelligent, creative narrative that leaves you hunkering for the next piece of their story. Even the epilogue excited me(which they normally don’t) and had me curious how that final piece of information will be put into play. Bravo Ms. Young. You are officially on my author auto-buy list.