Teen suicide has become a contagious epidemic - and the only cure is The Program: a six week hospital stay that takes your memories. Despite being at high risk due to her brother's suicide, Sloane doesn't ever want to go into The Program. She's seen how it's hollowed out her best friend Lacey and made her a shadow of her former self. But when her beloved boyfriend James get infected, Sloane knows they'll be coming for her next ...
Despite the novel being about suicide, I wasn't prepared for how oppressively depressing some parts of THE PROGRAM turned out to be. This atmosphere is perfect for this near-future world where teens would rather swallow QuikDeath than be institutionalized and practically lobotomized, but it's not exactly fun reading.
The overarching theme here, though, is touching. It's the idea that the heart knows even if the mind forgets. The chemistry between Sloane and James is palpable and you can feel it in your bones that these two will somehow find a way to get back together.
Both the premise and the execution reminded me of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND mixed with MEMENTO NORA (by Angie Smibert), so it's a good bet for fans of those works. I'm not sure if there a sinister government conspiracy behind The Program (perhaps we'll find our more in future installments), but the fact that memories can be stolen from you without your permission is certainly a scary dystopian-ish thought.
THE PROGRAM comes out April 30, 2013. Find out more about it at the author's website.
FTC disclosure: Review copy requested from publisher.
See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore