Book Buddies: The Program by Suzanne Young

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Buddies is a discussion-style review that takes place with Lauren @ Bookmark Lit. (Learn more and see past reviews here) We both read the book and then have a private discussion about it. We post our discussion as a review on the last Wednesday of each month. You’ll be able to see our similar/different opinions on the overall book, characters, writing style, etc. – just like a regular review. The first half our discussion will take place right here, and the second half will be on Lauren's blog! (Link at the bottom)

The Program

Author: Suzanne Young
Pages: 405
Published by: Simon Pulse
Published on: April 30th 2013
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program. Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories. Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them

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If you would like to read the other half of the discussion click here to go Lauren's blog!

(There are some spoilers in this discussion so be cautious!)

1. Do you feel as though the Program actually helps depression or pressures people to become more depressed. (Since the Program brings in people who show the slightest sign of depression, do you think that worries and stresses people to become depressed?)
L: This is similar to a question that I wrote down as well! I definitely think that The Program has some major drawbacks. If I saw my friend being pulled from class, kicking and screaming, to be brought to a facility where their memory was going to be erased, I would definitely not be happy about it. Seeing this happen to family members and friends on a regular basis definitely increases depression, in my opinion. It's like they're going through and giving people depression so that they can wipe their memories, so that the whole population would be perfect, preppy followers. By bringing in people with depression and stripping them of their memories, they all just kind of become robots. But, then again, as time goes on, you never know what else could happen in their lives that could cause them to be depressed again. It's like it'll be an endless cycle. This was a very rambling answer but I think you know what I mean ;)

K: I agree! It's like being taken to jail, or that's how everyone treats it. The way you put it, it's as if the depression was kind of "contagious" and I agree with that. The people you spend your time with really affects your mood and the more depressed they get, the more depressed you get. I have also thought about that when people go through cycles of depression. Not everyone is going to be happy once they go through depression once. Things change and you meet new people and your depression may return. Also, I would hate to live in a world full of robots...

2. When you first met Realm, what were your initial feelings and thoughts about him? How did they change after you started getting further into the book?
L: He super creeped me out, I can't lie. I hated that he called her "sweetness" all the time and I probably would have punched him if I were her. I found it really weird that he kept saying that he would do anything for her when he literally JUST met her. It just didn't make sense to me. Because of that, I definitely didn't trust him. This only got worse as the book continued.. especially in the epilogue! I can't say I'm surprised by it (not to mention a little confused...) but I'm definitely curious to see what the heck happens next.

K: Okay, good! I'm not the only one who dislikes Realm. As much as he was nice to Sloane, I didn't get a very good vibe from him as well. When Sloane met him, I was still so much on the James and Sloane ship (despite how unlikey they were) and I just felt bad because it felt like Sloane was cheating James whenever she would share a bed with Realm or anything like that. Oh, then we find out he is some sort worker for the Program and that really caused me to lose even more trust in him, not like I had much to begin with... :/ I do think he has a huge role in this book though, excited to see what happens to him...

3. Was the book different from what you expected thoughts? Did it surprise you in anyway?
L: I was definitely intrigued by the premise but I don't usually read dystopias at all. I did The Maze Runner trilogy, which got worse with each book, and The Hunger Games, which was obviously excellent. I think it a lot of ways it reminded me of The Maze Runner because it had this all-powerful, "big brother" type of organization that messed with people and experimented. The whole time (during both books actually) I was wondering if there was more to the story or more to the organization that meets the eye. I think it'll definitely be the case in this series; The Program definitely has some crazy, crazy practices. I didn't know if I was going to like it or not but it was REALLY well-done and interesting.

K: For me this book really surprised because of what dystopian I have read in the past; it was definitely different. This book was very interesting and there is definitely more to what meets the eye. I am super excited to find out more about this society and government because this book gave me none of that information! The thing is, there weren't many fights and battles but Sloane's story and the Program just got me so interested, I couldn't stop reading. Plus, the twists and turns really surprised me.

4. Is there anything you disliked about the book or something you especially liked?

L: I honestly can't think of anything I disliked! It was a really solid read for me. I liked the way the book was written, in multiple parts, and allowed us to "know" more than Sloane did. Possibly a spoiler ahead if you haven't read it - When Sloane's memory got erased, we had the chance to learn about her history and her memories... so we knew more about her life than she did at that point! I love when I'm reading a book where I know something that the main character doesn't. I especially liked the themes of fate - or always ending up where you're meant to be - but this is explored more on my blog! ;)

K: Honestly, I didn't think I disliked anything about the book as well. This book wasn't a filled with tons of battles but it was so interesting and there were so many plot twists; this made the book really interesting. And I liked how Sloane's memories have been erased yet I am still reading on because I want to find out more. It was heartbreaking to see James come out of the Program and I thought that was going to be it. Oh but it was even more heartbreaking to see Sloane get dragged into the Program because we basically read as she starts to forget things and how she is forced drugs every single therapy session. I really just loved the writing and the plot for this book.

5. Did you consider this book to have a love triangle?
L: Hmmm. Yes and no. I have a feeling that people who hate love triangles (not me, really) would think that there was one. It's kind of hard when (again, spoiler ahead??) someone's memory is erased. Their loyalty isn't exactly changing from one person to another because they don't even remember the first person. I think it was interesting that Sloane even settled for Realm at all when it seemed like she barely liked him or even knew him. Regardless, SHE always said that they were kind of more than friends, but not really. So I guess the short answer is yes, kind of? Even though I totally didn't believe she had feelings for Realm and I'm kinnnnd of in love with James. There's a love triangle between me and Sloane and James.

K: Ahahaha, same. It was so weird to see Realm telling Sloane he loved her and all that because they haven't even known each other for a full 6 months. Whereas James has know Sloane since she was like what? 7? This book has sorta a love triangle and sort of not. I know that Sloane will always choose James over Realm but Realm still will "love" Sloane. If he ever does become a very big character in this series then I don't think he would be a threat to James and Sloane's "new" relationship. Hopefully he will "love" Sloane from five feet behind and stay friends with her.

6. Any predictions for the next book?
L: NOPE. I have no idea. I'm awful at predicting what's going to happen in books, but I'm hoping to learn more about The Program and its intricacies. I also desperately need that epilogue to be explained!! I imagine that Sloane and James will be out and about, running with a group of rebels, so that'll be interesting. I'm very curious to see if Sloane decides to take that pill. On one hand, if I were her, I'd definitely want my memory restored. But, on the other hand, imagine if she found out her whole history with James but he still had no idea about it? That'd be super awkward.

K: I honestly don't have any predictions either. The pill is a super interesting thing because I guess it would be kind of weird to have Sloane remember all their camping trips and her brother and all but that means there is hope for James to get some of his memories back because a lot of it is shared with Sloane. The epilogue left me so confused and wanting more because it was so interesting! (And yes making out, I miss those...;))

Again, if you would like to see the rest of the discussion, click here!