The Epidemic by Suzanne Young
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Eerily, I read this one not long after picking up Stephen King's latest, End of Watch, which also deals with suicide - or so it appears, as the deaths in King's book aren't technically suicides, being supernaturally and externally influenced. King did, however, mention the concept of suicide clusters, which of course got me thinking about The Program and all the rest of the books in this series.
With the conclusion of the prequel duology in this book, we finally have a much better idea of how and why the suicide epidemic in The Program originated. I long suspected that threatening to commit teenagers en masse for "deviant" behavior would be the primary cause, and guess what? I was right. It's not so much to do with loneliness or depression, although naturally those figure in heavily too. But threatening to wipe teenagers' identities for the simple crime of being human, having imperfections? That's some dirty Nazi-level atrocity right there.
I found the original series a great concept to start off with, and it hit a bit of a roadblock in The Treatment, but the two prequels have brought the high-quality origin story the previous books needed so much.
Even better, Young's not done with the world of The Program yet - I hear she's already planning a new follow-up to The Treatment. It'll just have to live up to the standards of The Epidemic, but I have faith in her ability to bring the thrills and feels.
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