The Program - Suzanne Young *Genre* Dystopian, Romance*Rating* 3.5-4*Thoughts*"The Program" is set in an alternate reality US where suicide is prevalent and out of control among teenagers. It’s a place where teens are required to take daily assessment test and are under a constant watchful eye to see if they carry out abhorrent behaviors like the desire to hurt oneself via suicide. It’s a place where someone thought it was a good idea to create “The Program” in several US states where teens between the ages of 13 & 17 are sent to be “cured” and return as shells of their former shelves.Parents in The Program have bought into the idea behind the Program wholeheartedly by sending their kids away to be cured by so called medical professionals instead of supporting, loving, and protecting them. It’s a place where you can’t really trust anyone, let alone medical professionals who tell you they are helping you to save yourself. It’s a place where the fear of betrayal lies around each and every turn of the page.“It’s the old adage, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you, too?” Apparently the answer is yes."” 17-year old Sloane Barstow is The Program's main protagonist. She watched as her brother Brady took his own life and realized that her parent's don't fully trust her to not do the same thing. She watched as her friends were systematically taken away from her one by one to the Program and returned not having any memories of who their friends were before. She fights hard to stay focused on not fully losing her self knowing that if she does, she won't return the same. Sloane is under constant pressure to hide away any emotions other than happiness and contentment for fear of being dragged away and taken to the Program to be “fixed” over the course of six weeks. Her one and only joy in her life has been her boyfriend James Murphy who she has been with for 2 years. James does his best to keep Sloane focused on pleasant things, and promises that he will take care of her no matter what. The Program is a heartbreaking story at its heart and perhaps an indictment of today’s society where medical professionals truly believe that medication is the only route to curing everything. In the past, anyone institutionalized would be in absolute fear of being lobotomized and ending up complete vegetables. In the Program, teens don't really have a chance at a happy life if they are constantly being watched and supervised not to show any sort of negative emotions which leaves them bottled up and ready to explode at a moment’s notice. At times, The Program was absolutely frustrating and chilling for me to read because I've been an advocate of not fully medicating a society that is unable to have any sort of emotional release without the fear of being jailed or institutionalized. Stripping a person of their memories causes even more problems in the long run. I really didn’t care for Sloan’s parents who instead of trying to help her, pushed her away into the Program without a moment’s hesitation; especially her mother. I didn’t care for the way she was treated and abused by the so called professionals who presumably knew that they were creating pod people. I didn’t care for Michael Realm who not only betrayed and lied to Sloan, but pretty much forced himself on her when she was at her weakest moment and couldn’t understand what was really happening to her. Then again, I am a hater of anything that even smells like it could be a 3 way love triangle.I’m hoping beyond hope that the sequel, The Treatment, will enlighten Sloane to Realm’s actions and betrayals and that she won’t somehow end up in his unworthy embrace instead of James. I'm also hoping to learn more about Kevin, Tabitha, Shep, and Derek who apparently played the game all to well for anyone to catch on except those who work at the Program.Published April 30th 2013 by Simon Pulse