Monday, May 26, 2014


The ProgramTHE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young describes an epidemic like none other.  Teenage suicides have exploded across the world. 

Sloane's own brother took his life leaving her and his best friend to pick up the pieces.  Sloane knows that showing any signs of depression will alert parents and teachers to the fact that she might have been exposed. 

In an attempt to control the epidemic, the government has developed the Program.  Those effected are essentially grabbed from home or school and sent away to undergo a brainwashing-type program that wipes their memories clean.  When they return home, they don't recognize their friends or their previous life.  They are like unemotional, automatons that now follow the rules and are "safe" from suicidal behaviors.

Since Sloane's brother's death, she and his best friend James have fallen in love.  When James begins to display symptoms, Sloane tries to shield him from the Program handlers, but he is taken away.  When he returns and doesn't recognize Sloane, she is devastated.  She knows she is next, but she vows to do whatever possible to escape the brainwashing that will remove all memories of the one she loves.

The Eleventh Plague
THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch was published a few years ago and stands as one of the earlier examples of dystopian YA fiction.  Fans of HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT might consider checking this one out for a good summer read.

Stephen and his father and grandfather are salvagers maintaining an existence by traveling cross-country gathering whatever they can find to use, sell, or trade.  The Eleventh Plague or P11 struck twenty years ago before Stephen was born.  It wiped out most of the population and destroyed the North American infrastructure leaving those left behind living like long ago pioneers. 

All Stephen knows of the past is what he hears from stories told by his father and grandfather.  He has never experienced things like school, television, cell phones, or computers.  After his mother died, all gentleness disappeared from his life.  It became survival no matter the cost.

When his domineering grandfather dies, Stephen and his father continue their way across country.  While sheltering in the wreckage of a crashed plane, they barely escape death at the hands of slavers.  With his father gravely injured, Stephen is attempting to deal with the crisis when a passing group offers to lend a hand.  Hesitant to trust strangers, Stephen reluctantly allows them to take him and his unconscious father to their settlement.  The group has managed to turn a former gated community into a functioning town complete with livestock, a working farm, and even a school.

Gradually, Stephen begins to trust the group, but the urge to keep on the move has him restless, and when his father dies, he questions whether staying is the right thing to do.  When a mini war breaks out with another nearby settlement, every one's survival may be in question.

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