Literature / The Program

The Program is a Young Adult novel written by Suzanne Young.

In the future, teen suicide has become a national pandemic. In order to save lives, teens are watched at all times—and any outburst could land them in the Program. Those who return are never the same, as their memories are gone as well as their depression.

Sloane has grown up in this world. The only person she can trust is her boyfriend James, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, itís getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

A sequel, entitled The Treatment, was released in April 2014, detailing James and Sloane's lives on the run after escaping the Program, and their adventures with a group of rebels trying to bring the Program down. Two spinoffs, The Remedy and The Recovery, released in 2015.

This book and its sequels contain examples of:

  • Adult Fear: When one in three teenagers is committing suicide, small wonder that parents are desperate enough to support things like The Program. And the thought that the Program, the very thing they're supporting, is actually making their kids more likely to kill themselves, is even scarier.
  • Adults Are Useless: Every adult seen supports the Program unquestioningly, seeing nothing wrong with kids losing their memories. The few exceptions are Sloane's father, who tells her the truth about her brother against treatment protocol, and Kevin.
    • There are also a few adults in the second book that question things, specifically Arthur Pritchard, the creator of the Program, who is horrified by how his work has been used, and Evelyn Valentine, the chemist who invented the Treatment.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • Sloane's attraction to James, even after they've both been through the Program.
    • Lacey in a much more dramatic way—she has a habit of going for guys who will actually hurt her.
  • And the Adventure Continues
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Evelyn.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Miller's dead, Lacey, James, and Sloane all have very few memories of who they are and the government's after them... but Sloane has a cure to her amnesia that she can take whenever she so wishes, Realm is alive and has befriended a girl who's rebellious like Sloane, and there's a group of Rebels who are trying to bring the Program down.
  • Broken Bird: Sloane, even before she goes to the Program and especially after.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Treatment, which is a gun waiting to go off throughout the entire second book. James is the one who ends up taking it, to prevent it from falling into the Program's hands, and successfully recovers all his memories.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Realm
  • Driven to Suicide: Has become an epidemic, with one in three teenagers committing suicide. Sloane's brother killed himself in the backstory; the plot kicks off when Miller commits suicide; Sloane attempts suicide but is unable to go through with it... The list goes on.
  • Dystopia
  • Empty Shell: What people who have been through the Program become.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Sloane and Dallas. And strangely, James and Realm manage this eventually; James is grateful to Realm for his role in saving Sloane from the Program. Sloane herself, though, refuses to have contact with Realm, unable to trust him again after everything she's learned about him.
  • Forced to Watch: Liam kills himself right in front of Sloane—as did her brother Brady.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Justified as Sloane and James have literally had Miller eradicated from their memories.
    • Subverted in the second book, as Sloane manages to recall a few things about him and James gets all his memories of him back after taking the Treatment.
  • For Your Own Good: Sloane's parents turn her in to the Program for her own good.
  • Good Bad Girl: Lacey
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: After all, you don't want to go to the Program... do you?
    • Taken further in the second book, in which the epidemic has started spreading to young adults and the Program is trying to push through a law that will make the Program mandatory for everyone under 18.
  • Here We Go Again!: The first book ends with Realm befriending a new girl in the Program, who thinks the Program is crap and gives the nurses trouble, simply wanting to go home... just like Sloane.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Kellan Thomas. His interview of Evelyn Valentine is what brings the Program down.
  • Karma Houdini: None of the headers of the Program face justice for their actions, because they either lawyer up or drop off the face of the Earth. Very much averted with Roger, who goes to jail for multiple counts of statutory rape and has pending charges for his involvement in the Program.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: What The Program does to you. Did you think Sloane would be exempt because she's the narrator? Nope.
  • My Beloved Smother: Sloane's mother is overprotective of her since her brother died, to the point of sending her to the Program.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Arthur Pritchard is ridden with guilt over what creating the Program has done.
  • Nice Guy: Miller, which makes his death even more shocking.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: It's implied the threat of the Program causes teens to be more depressed.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The entire Program is horrible, but Roger, who attempts to rape Sloane, is especially heinous.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Roger.
  • Stepford Smiler: Everyone, since one crying fit can land you in the Program. Those that go through the Program become the "empty inside" variety.
  • Take a Third Option: Sloane does this in regards to the cure for her amnesia that she receives at the end of the novel. Unable to decide whether or not to take it, she instead decides to save it just in case.
  • Truth Serums: How the Program works; they use a truth serum to force the patient to talk about certain memories, then administer a second drug which erases the memories.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As a general rule, any parent that sends their kid to the program. They sincerely want to keep their children safe, they're just too blinded by fear to realize how horrid the Program is.
  • Wham Episode: Part 2 of the first book, which details Sloane's life in the Program.
  • Wham Line:
    • "I took it ten minutes ago.", said by Miller, talking about QwickDeath.
    • "Say goodbye to James.", said just before the Program erases James from Sloane's memory.