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Stuff for the Teen Age

A Dystopian Future With a Cure For Suicide: The Program by Suzanne Young

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Sloane lives in a world where teens have to hide their true emotions. If a friend, teacher, or even a family member sees her having an emotional outburst, they could report her and have her taken by force into The Program. That's why she can't risk crying where anyone else can see her. Because while the treatment she would get in The Program would remove her depression, it would also remove her memories. In other words, she might as well be dead.

Suzanne Young's novel The Program opens with an intriguing premise—that the suicide rate among teenagers became so high that teen suicide was declared a national epidemic. Nobody knew why so many teenagers were killing themselves, but some scientists thought that it could be caused by a contagious disease. The government created something called The Program, which became mandatory for teenagers who showed any signs of depression.

Imagine what it would be like to have to keep your emotions inside you at all times. Now imagine that it's very likely that you will see your friends and classmates dragged, kicking and screaming, out of their classrooms or out of their homes. Even if it happens right in front of you, even if they plead for your help … you can't scream, you can't cry, you can't react. Because handlers from The Program are everywhere, and they're ALWAYS watching you.

It's been fascinating over the last several years to read dystopian fiction for teens and discover what the new twist will be on the "imperfect society" each time. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is set in a world where teens are forced to fight to the death to earn food for their districts. In Matched by Ally Condie, the government makes major decisions for its citizens, including their marriage partners and when they will die. Delirium by Lauren Oliver creates a world in which everyone is cured of the disease called amor deliria nervosa (aka "love"), when they turn 18. On the other side of that coin, in XVI by Julia Karr all girls are mandated to get a tattoo on their 16th birthdays indicating that they are ready to have sex. In Divergent by Veronica Roth, society has been divided into five factions, and everyone must devote themselves to just one of these factions or be forced to live outside the civilized world. And there's also an excellent short story collection called After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia which contains many different scenarios about what happens when society ends… and then what happens next.

If you're a fan of these and other books that explore dystopian futures, then you should definitely add The Program to your reading list!

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