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Monday, July 29, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

TITLE: The Program 
SERIES: Program, Book #1
AUTHOR: Suzanne Young 
NARRATOR: Joy Osmanski
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: April 30, 2013
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 10 hrs and 56 mins
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Dystopia
ISBN: 9781442357938
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.


I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

Wow, I think this book has now moved into the top spot for my favourite YA book of 2013!

In this dystopian world, the suicide rate amongst teenagers is on the rise, with one out of every three teens succumbing to the tragedy. Scientists have failed to determine the cause and have speculated that it could be due to pesticides used in the production of food or contaminants in vaccines. They believe the most likely cause is due to overuse of anti-depressants in the generation of the parents, which has altered the chemical makeup of their offspring making them more prone to depression.

The protagonist is Sloane Barstow, a 17 year-old teenage girl whose school district in Oregon has established a program where students are observed closely for any changes in their manner or disposition that could signal the threat of depression. If a person is exhibiting any such symptoms, they are flagged and handlers are called in to take the “infected” student to a treatment facility. The patient will be subjected to a cocktail of pills that will strip away the troubling memories that are affecting their mood. The Program generally lasts about six weeks, and then the patient is released but is not permitted to mingle unsupervised with the regular teens. These patients, referred to as “returners,” attend high school with other returners and will remain there until graduation. If they wish to visit with friends, they can do so at the Wellness Centre while being chaperoned by a handler. Once the teens turn 18 years of age, they cannot be forced into treatment.

Sloane’s brother, Brady, committed suicide when she was 15 years old. Her boyfriend, James Murphy, was Brady’s best friend and he is the only person who is holding Sloane together. He keeps reminding her that they cannot show any vulnerability and must hide their true feelings or risk being flagged. When one of Sloane’s friends is forced into treatment, it sets off a chain-reaction from which there is no turning back. Fearing for the safety of their only remaining child, Sloane’s parents call in the handlers to have her taken away. Sloane is adamant that they will not succeed in erasing her memories, and she is desperate to hold onto her identity. 

The Program is one of those books that just grabbed me from the get-go and never let me go! The concept of being taken against one’s will into a program that would brainwash me is so frightening. A teenager wouldn’t be able to trust anyone. What a way to live! Young created a gripping, emotional story with a sweet romance that has me yearning for more! I cannot wait to read the sequel, The Treatment, which is expected to be released in April 2014. That seems so far away, so I’m definitely planning to check out her A Need So Beautiful series while I wait. Just a caution out there for the parents: There is sexual content, so I would recommend this one only for those at the upper end of the teen range.

Memorable quote: 

“He said that some things are better left in the past and true things are destined to repeat themselves.” 

This is my second narration by Joy Osmanski, and she was bang-on! She captured Sloane’s emotions perfectly, and she made it very hard for me to put this book down. 


View all my reviews


  1. Yaay! So glad you enjoyed it. I loved it as well. It definitely was one of my best reads this year. Great review!

    Holly @ Absorbing the Content

  2. I am so glad you enjoyed it too! I LOVED this one, the whole concept was unique and terrifying and so well executed.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

  3. Cool review! I'm glad you liked it, I did too. I love how you did a memorable quote; that's really cool. I'll have to think about doing that on my blog:) You can see my review to The Program at


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