Sunday, November 27, 2016

BOOK REVIEW & INTERVIEW: The Program by Suzanne Young

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.

REVIEW BY: Angel, 14 years


A heart-wrenching adventure. 

This book took me on an emotional roller-coaster with tons of spectacular characters.

This novel will make you beg for more. In this book Suicide is a disease, an epidemic. Where the Program is watching your every move. No one can cry or grieve, if you do well that means your sick. Your own parents will turn you in.

I absolutely adored this book with every twist and turn.

My favorite character is James because he is mysterious yet, always there for his friends.

My favorite part was reading about Sloane's past because it gave me the good sort of chills.

I give this book 5 stars and 13 and up.

Angel interviewed Suzanne Young at the Texas Book Fest. The interview is located below.

Question #1: What was your inspiration?

"The program started off as a contemporary story about a girl who attempted suicide and then returned to school the next day and everyone knew that and it was kinda the idea that strangers being able to comment on your mental health. So, I started that story but it felt too close, too personal so I kinda spun it out into an epidemic. I looked up suicide clusters and things like that. The movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the way they would erase memories, that kinda help feed into of the therapy and so I look it up and they do actually PTSD therapies that you know target memories and tried to make people disassociate with them and so that was kinda the inspiration for that. It had some real world inspiration and then to you know it made the story bigger, I felt like it was easier to read it almost because it wasn't so tight and close on one person, you know? "

Question #2: What was the hardest character to write?

"Ummm...let’s see. I have different reasons...I think Rogers because he was so gross!

He just grossed me out and I hated writing him and because of that he was like my least favorite to write."

Question #3: When did you start writing?

"I was always a writer. I started writing in 6th grade and would write murder mysteries starring all of my friends. I would killed them off one by one in a very Scream like style you know like horror. Then I went to school for creative writing and then I became an English teacher and then I sold my first book in 2008 and so it was a while."

Question #4: How long does it take you to write a book?

"It depends on the book so...on some I write really quickly like All In Pieces I think I wrote it in 2 weeks, the first draft. This one (The Program) took about 3 to 4 months and then the most recent one was about 5 to 6 months. So it kinda depends, if it’s a sequel it takes me longer i think they are super hard to write. I have really hard time with sequels."

Question #5: What are some of your favorite books?

"Books I read...I love anything Sarah Rees Brennan like the The Demon’s Lexicon is one of my favorite books. I love Libbra Bray and The Great And Terrible Beauty...Yeah I love that. I like Nova Ren Suma The Walls Around Us and then I like classics too because I’m an English teacher so I love Frankenstein, and I like Wuthering Heights, and 1984. "

Question #6: Did the Program turn out how you wanted it too?

" I think it did…You know It ended several different ways, like I was never sure about the ending so I kept changing it. There was one ending where they were together and they walked into the river...her and James.  I was like no! We can’t do that,…That was a little too much and another one where she crushed the pill right there on Realm’s doorstep and that was the end. It was just the one book, it was never suppose to be a series just the one book. It was when I wrote the Epilogue that I realized I could write more books about this and so I went back and she didn’t crush the pill and you know I wrote the rest of the series.

Question #7: Do you believe that the Program is good for teens? Or does it cause more suicide?

"Well, what happens in The Treatment not like a huge spoiler, they start to see that it’s actually the fear that The Program is instilling in people that was continuing and growing the epidemic so if they would have handled it when it first happened you know it would have past. You know suicide and epidemics do pass, they are real but instead they almost fed into it and then they created fear and made everyone hid their feelings and by hiding their feelings and not talking about it, that’s what made it worst. But, it was originally started with good intentions you know…They didn’t mean it to be evil…But for the parents like they just wanted help. Yeah, so I didn't intend it to be a big bad guy but yeah it definitely ended up being what continued the epidemic."

Question #8: What part of the book was the hardest to write?

" You know...I hated what happened to Miller…my students would joke about it and you know one day,  girls would said “ I’m Team James,” “I’m Team Realm” and then one of the guys goes “ You know what I’m Team Miller!”  So that was hard but I think... weirdly it was a scene in part two where she’s (Sloane) just taken the black pill where they said you know “ Say goodbye to James” and she walks out into the hallway for some reason that scene always got me. The idea that he was going to be erased forever that was just something that always hurt."

Question #9: What character is your favorite? Why?

"I love James.... I think he was super fun to write, he was a blast. I like Realm a lot too, how complicated he was. There was one version of this where her and Realm ended up together. You know...but he wasn’t always part of it. Like he was just going to be the nice guy she met. In the rest of the series the girl that comes in the next book called, Dallas, I like her quite a bit but yeah probably James because he was fun."

Question #10: Did you leave out anything you wanted in the book?

"Ummm… no. I mean it’s a pretty long book so I think I told a lot of it, I would say. Sometimes I would say some things I needed to scale back a bit you know, but at the same time those are the parts the most of the people identify with. Especially at the end of part one where she’s in her room and they are coming to take her, that’s pretty dark moment. And sometimes I think “aww, I shouldn’t have went there” but at the same time you know I think that’s what helps drives the story."

Question #11: What would you do if the Program took away your memory?

"I don’t know there is anything you can know...So I think you know from their perspective (...obviously we know the truth) but from their perspective I can understand why the returners are scared of their memories now. It’s kinda like someone took them away and told them what ever they took was for a reason and things were awful, you were obviously suicidal and things were really tough for you. And so I think I would believe that and maybe try avoid my old life but of course now after you finished the book you know you realize that wasn’t the best Idea... but yeah I would probably would have laid low.  But, you know I would have missed out on cool things."

Question #12: Would you rather be in the Program or die?

"The Program. Yeah..and I think that was the thing for the parents involved you know I think they would do anything to…to keep their children alive and so it seemed what they were doing was cruel and I can understand from the kids perspective, they didn’t know what was going to happen to them and it seemed so weird. It seemed like they were being rewritten and in a way they were but you know ultimately they still could live and change their lives you know. So I understood why they thought that way because they didn’t know, it was an unknown factor. Yeah… I would go to The Program and I WOULD BEAT IT!!!"

Question #13: Are you a rebel or goody two-shoes?

" Ummm...I’m a little bit of both. I think you know since I’m a teacher I don’t really follow the rules necessarily, like when I want to do things I think there is like a better way but I conscientious of not inflicting pain on other people or hurt people's feelings. So I think that part of me is very good. I also have a hard time following rules."

Question #14: Are you Team Realms or Team James?

"JAMES! I just love him, I just think he is just great. And you know I feel really bad for Realm. You get to hear his backstory in The Treatment and it’s even sadder and makes you feel even worst for him. But then there is James and you're like “Sorry Realm.” Yeah he will at least have one friend. HAHAHAHA!!!"

Question #15: Are you Team Sloane or Team Lacy?

"You know now that I think of it I should have added more to Lacey’s story because I don’t think she had enough but I love Sloane and I think she’s pretty cool and I really like how her character in the beginning doesn’t seem very strong cause her and James completely rely on each other but when he gets sick she steps up and she cares for him as best as she can and so I think she’s stronger than she thinks she is and that’s why I like her."

Question #16: Why does Sloane's mother trust the Program so much?

"I think they were so devastated when Brady died that after that it’s like they would believe anything, like any propaganda. And that’s the thing The Program being you them they are getting flyers about it and it’s on commercials about it and they are seeing that everyone else that goes into The Program survives and so to her she just doesn’t want to lose her daughter. And she can’t even cry in front of her mom, she’s so worried that her mom will be the one to send her in…which ends up being the case....but really she was grieving and in that regard like she wasn’t aloud to feel her grief as well. All of them were in this absolute loop of grief. Rather than getting any kind of help they were being told that The Program was what could fix it and that’s not even true but that’s what they were being told. So, I think for her if she wasn’t…if she hadn’t lost her son I don't think she would have sent her but because she had lost him she just wasn’t going to go through it again. So grief.Yeah… and she, you know, I talk about her in The Treatment too, like what’s gonna happen with their relationship and James’s dad relationship with them so it's kinda like I added something. In the prequel series you know I talk about how The Program became to be, like how did we even get to this place. And one of the main things were that people were unable to handle their grief and so they were turning to different things to handle their grief and eventually The Program came and they thought “hey, that could work.”

Question #17: Would you take the pill to get your memories back? Why or why not?

"I think I probably would?I probably would but it’s so dangerous and it just depends...I don’t know, that’s a tough one.I would probably take it...And hope for the best!"

Question #18: Any interesting facts about yourself?

"Ummmm…oh gosh about me?? I don't know what kind of facts. Let’s see when I...I grew up in New York, in Central New York and I live in Arizona now and the day I graduated from college in December it was like -13 and so I packed up my car with my dog in the front seat and I drove 25,000 miles to Arizona. Didn't know anybody, didn’t know anything about it and I moved there and I been there ever since.
Except for a short time I lived in Oregon where all my books are set.And it rains there a lot and that’s why I think you know it help contribute to the writing because it was raining all the time. Sooo…yeah."

Question #19: Any advice to young writers?

"To keep writing because I wrote so many books I think I almost taught myself a lot of different you know techniques and I think it was my 5th book that was my 1st book I sold, The Program was I think my 15th or 16th book that I wrote. So each book I write hopefully gets better and so to keep writing and nowadays like with publishing they are ways to get your work out there but if it’s something you really believe in I would say like each trying to polish and get it published but always find someone to be your cheerleader.
That was the one thing I really needed. I needed a reader, you know my sister in law ended up reading part of my first book she said “this is really good, you should publish it,” and I never thought to publish it and so I started looking into how to publish. But her being there to like encourage me that’s the only reason I finished my book because other wise I would have given up after awhile when it got hard.  Hahahaha"

A big thank you to Suzanne Young, her publicist, and the Texas Book Fest.

Here is a picture of Suzanne, Angel, and Arianna:

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