When suicide becomes an epidemic among teenagers, Sloane and James have to play by the unspoken rules, every second, in order to stay out of The Program:
1. Don’t cry. Ever.
2. Feel nothing or at least appear not to have any real or strong emotions.
3. Attend all assigned therapy and say only what is expected, never the truth.
4. Never answer the daily suicide quiz questions truthfully. There’s only one set of right answers, and everybody knows it.
Basically, to survive, teenagers must live in a world of lies, or they will get sent to The Program, which will recondition them by removing their past, including complete memories of people and life events, before returning them to the world empty, numb, and “cured.” When a best friend goes into The Program, a complete stranger comes back out. This is obviously all for the teens benefit, in order to keep them safe from harm and preserve future generations.
I had no idea what this was about when I started reading, and at first I was extremely skeptical. However, this story blew me away. The concept was unexpected, and the way the story unfolds was fascinating. I spent half the book being indignant and the rest of it being stressed out and worried, so it’s the kind of book that demands an emotional investment.