- The attempt at explaining the suicides. Young scratches the surface a bit on why the teens commit suicide. She accurately portrays the overwhelming feeling of loneliness that overcomes the suicidal teens, their feelings of helplessness, and their overall lack of will to live--I just never felt like she took the it a step further and answered the question "So what are we going to do about this and how can we help?" This was a great start to something that should have been the main focus of the book. Instead, the suicide epidemic is used as an excuse for yet another dystopian love triangle, AGH.
- The sense of self. After participating in The Program, at risk teens are pretty much wiped clean. Any people or events thought to trigger the sadness that brought them to The Program in the first place are completely removed from their memories. This raises some interesting questions which, once again, Young almost-answers. Are you the same person without your past? Are we better off not knowing awful things that happened to us, or without those memories are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over? While these types of questions are danced around, the main focus of the story even after the characters' participation in The Program remains the romance, which is really unfortunate.
- The epilogue. The actual ending to the story was fairly exciting and I probably would have picked up the next book anyway just out of curiosity, but the epilogue sealed the deal for me. It gives just enough confusing, disturbing information to leave me craving the next book to figure out what the hell is going on.
- The love triangle. As I've already said, this book had real potential. The topic and the plot could have made some really profound, interesting insights into teen suicide, but instead the whole book was used as a set up for yet ANOTHER young adult dystopian love triangle. The most frustrating part about this for me was the fact that the third leg of the triangle is totally unnecessary. The romance between the two main characters in conjunction with all the other unfortunate crap that is going on in their lives is plenty of material for an interesting, exciting book. There is absolutely no need to add another love interest.
- The gullibility and predictability. If you're living in a world where the government is herding suicidal teens into a medical program which is known to erase memories, why in the hell would you ever believe anything a nurse/doctor at the facility tells you about medication and pills? Sloane is stupid enough to trust the staff of The Program to tell her honestly what the medication she is being given is doing to her system, and then acts outraged when she finds out they were lying. This felt downright stupid and completely unrealistic. As soon as Sloane touched the first pill I knew for a fact exactly what was happening, and I find it very hard to believe that any teen in her situation would be unable to come to exactly the same conclusions that I did almost immediately.
"I think that sometimes the only real thing is now."
As many other people have said, the amount you will enjoy this book totally depends on your expectations. If you go into this looking for another dystopian love triangle novel without any real substance, you will probably love it to pieces. If you were looking for something more like I was, you will probably come away with the sense that the book missed its mark and totally failed to meet its potential. The topic and premise are a perfect set up to do some great things, but Young totally throws that away and instead just introduces more and more questions that she fails to answer in lieu of building up yet another love triangle which, in context, feels completely unnecessary. I will be picking up the next book in the series out of mere curiosity, but my expectations will definitely be much lower than they were for this book.