In this wrenching sequel to The Program (2013), a few desperate teens race to save what’s left of their memories and salvage the tatters of their lives.
After being discharged from The Program, a facility developed to stop the teen-suicide epidemic by removing teens’ memories, Sloane and James have reignited the passion of their former love. The Program’s cure, however, isn’t foolproof, and memories can “crash back,” causing brain bleeds and insanity. Moreover, The Program has instituted procedural lobotomies and, with the government’s backing, is beginning to make teen “behavior modification” mandatory. Sloane and James join a group of rebels intent on destroying The Program, and Sloane holds the one last pill that returns memories. In constant pursuit of the rebels, The Program wants to destroy the pill, but the doctor behind The Program, having seen the error of his ways, seems to want to reproduce it. The story is unrelentingly dramatic: “I put the blade to my neck and began to saw,” recounts Sloane’s friend Realm, describing his anguish. Compelling questions left dangling from the first book as to the origins of the epidemic, whether “behavioral contagion” and/or media hype, are explored.
Offering great appeal to reflective romantics, this jarring thriller looks at the cost of societal complacency while lauding heroism and remembrance. (Dystopian romance. 14-18)