By: Suzanne Young
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.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I was expecting to love it, but it wasn't quite as easy to love as I was thought it would be. From the first time I read the summary, the concept of this book intrigued me. The premise was executed pretty well, but I had a few problems with it as well.
Things that irritated me:
*Note: Keep in mind that while the components to these things that I'm going to mention irritated me, it does not mean that I disliked that character or aspect as a whole. (meaning, even though there were things about Sloane that I thought didn't make any sense, I still ended up liking her character).*
I realize that Sloane is confused and sort of drugged, but how on earth could you NOT see some of these things coming? It seemed like she kept saying things like this, "I have to figure out how they're taking my memories! The only thing they're enforcing is that I take these mysterious pills... But what are they doing to my brain?" Then she realizes that they're taking her memories through the pills and is genuinely shocked.
And when Sloane was surprised (multiple times, might I add) that the doctors were lying to her in a program that she was forced into against her will and that she have seen destroy her friends? I mean, REALLY?
When she was SO surprised when they forced the medicine into her when she refused to take it when they had distinctly told her that was exactly they would do. Then being SO shocked that they would give her a bigger and bigger dose until she tells the truth...Why wouldn't they?
And then after Roger openly says that he's offered the pill to other girls and they accepted and offered more, she's still surprised later when she learns that he's done it to other girls.
Basically what I kept asking myself was, "HAS SLOANE NO DEDUCTIVE REASONING AT ALL?"
Have I mentioned that I HATE the pet name "baby"? And now I hate the pet name "sweetness". It just sounds stupid.
He was kind of hit or miss for me. He was adorably protective, but sometimes it was just too much. And his crude humor was occasionally endearing, but other times is was just a bit cringe-worthy and came off a just trying way too hard.
One of my biggest problem was, after James and Sloane came back from The Program, even for losing all their memories they certainly "had unexplainable feelings about" (read: remembered) a lot of things. (i.e. the river spot, the pink plastic ring, other little things.)
Then when Realm said the line "You don't remember it, but your heart does." *gag me with a spoon* (hint: that's not a thing)
Things that I liked:
It wasn't the worst execution of a great concept. For the most part it was engaging, intriguing, and thought-provoking. This book really does hit at important topics with an interesting concept.
As mentioned earlier, I also ended up really liking Sloane as a character. She was sometimes a bit dense, but she was sweet and mostly kind and genuine.
One really cool thing that happened in the story was that the reader knows more about the Protagonist's past than the protagonist does. You know more about what the protagonist's choices mean than the protagonist.
Most importantly I think this book highlights the important difference between sadness and depression and being suicidal. They are very different things and should be treated accordingly. In this world, they are all treated the same and it causes so many problems. In fact, The Program ended up increasing the pressures of life and caused about as much suicide as I think it prevented.
Another brilliant aspect was what I found myself thinking and how it got answered later. I actually wrote in my notes while reading this book, "Why is Sloane the only one even kind of freaking out about losing her memories?" Then that was addressed so intriguingly later.
I'm excited to see where this series heads in the next books.
"What I see is someone broken and fierce. Someone loyal and hardened."
"I'm so alone it's like being dead but still conscious”