As a teen-suicide epidemic sweeps the nation, Sloane and her friends struggle with depression from which the only release is death or The Program.
Every day the teens pretend that they’re not “infected” in order to avoid being seized by The Program. This government-sanctioned treatment returns high schoolers to the community after stripping them of their memories and making them vacant versions of their former selves. With raw emotion, 17-year-old Sloane relates the story in three parts. In the first, Sloane and her boyfriend, James, cling to their intense love while their friends commit suicide or are taken away. There’s nowhere to hide as Sloane and James try and fail to keep themselves from The Program. The stomach-churning second part follows Sloane in treatment, where her memories are plucked and her body violated, and her only friend is playing both sides. Finally, Sloane is re-introduced to her school and family. She retains one key memory, which leads her back to fear, pain and love. How this epidemic began and whether The Program is a sinister conspiracy is left unanswered, but despite weak worldbuilding and a bleak plot, Sloane’s quest for survival and individuality is a tribute to the tenacity of the essential self.
For lovers of dystopian romance, this gripping tale is a tormented look at identity and a dark trip down Lost-Memory Lane. (Dystopian romance. 14 & up)